A darker ‘Cabaret’

2008-07-31 00:00

The Hexagon Theatre has a major project coming up in August — Peter Mitchell’s production of Cabaret, opening on August 15 for a run of seven performances until August 23.

This acclaimed adult-themed musical has been revived numerous times, with the latest London production closing last month after a long run at the Lyric Theatre.

Weimar Berlin of 1931 (just before Hitler’s rise to power) is the setting for the Kander and Ebb musical. The city’s dark and decadent underbelly is exposed, as vibrant and extraordinary characters escape the reality of the impending threat of Nazi control.

They sink into a sexually promiscuous world of no tomorrow; the world of the seedy Kit Kat Klub, where Sally Bowles entertains and titillates the clientele.

Most people are familiar with the Liza Minelli film version of the show, but the stage show is both darker and more humourous, and contrasts two love stories. The relationship between English entertainer Sally Bowles and young American writer Clifford Bradshaw is contrasted with that of the older characters, boarding-house owner Fraulein Schneider and Jewish fruit-shop owner Herr Schultz. And keeping an eye on the whole thing is the Emcee, who uses the famous nightclub musical numbers (Wilkommen, The Money Song, Two Ladies) to comment on the action of the play.

Based on the play by John van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood, this is not the escapist entertainment of many Broadway musicals because history cannot be changed; the audience knows that no matter how much the characters hide their heads in the sand, the inevitable tide of political and social upheaval will consume their world.

The cast includes Caitlin Kilburn, Justin Southey, James Aitchison, Diana Wilson and Leo Quayle. Music is in the capable hands of Helen Vermaak, with John McGuiness as band leader. The choreographer is Mbo Mtshali, who has just been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study theatre in the United States.

Performances are on August 15 and August 16, and August 19 to August 23 at 7.30 pm. Tickets are R60 (R50 concessions). The play is not advised for children. To book, phone the theatre at 033 260 5537 or e-mail hexagon@ukzn.ac.za

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