Cabaret - Nottingham Theatre Royal

LIFE certainly was a cabaret at Nottingham's Theatre Royal on Monday night as an electric cast took to the stage to deliver an exceptional opening night performance.

Having not seen the film of Cabaret, or read the book, I was not sure what to expect from the musical adaptation set in Berlin in the early 1930s.

I knew the story centred around a Cabaret night club – 'The Kit Kat Club' – but I did not realise the strong political messages it carried with it.

The show opens with the arrival of American Cliff Bradshaw, played by Henry Luxemburg, at German Border Control.

It is the young novelist's first time in Berlin, but it does not take him long to settle in.

Cliff is pointed in the direction of Fraulein Schneider's lodging house where he takes a room before being introduced to the Kit Kat Club and lead show girl Sally Bowles, played by Samantha Barks.

The storyline follows a rocky relationship between Sally and Cliff as well as a romance between landlady Fraulein Schneider and her Jewish lover Herr Shultz during the rise of the Nazis.


Audience members see how Berlin is a care-free city where almost anything goes, people are encouraged to experiment and clothes do not stay on for long.

But by the end of act two Berlin becomes a very different place as the once booming entertainment scene dies away and Nazis call the shots.

Minimal backdrops and props were used but the small, talented cast brought the stage to life with glittering costumes (what there was of them), memorising dance moves and incredible singing.

Peppered in sexual innuendoes, oozing with raunchiness and spotted with scenes of nudity, this production is certainly not for the faint-hearted or narrow-minded.

It invites the audience to glimpse what life was once like in Berlin, before Hitler began closing down the city's cabarets and calling time on its care-free attitudes.

A stand-out performance came from Wayne Sleep as a creepy host of the show and getting his kicks along the way.

Samantha Barks, who made it to the final of BBC's I'd Do Anything, also deserves praise for her performance as Sally Bowles.

The musicians, who are always tucked away below the stage, also have to be congratulated for bringing the musical to life with catchy numbers including 'Don't Tell Mama' and 'The Money Song'.

This show will shock you, excite you, make you laugh and possibly cry – for those reasons I cannot fault it in the slightest.

Have you been to the show? Let us know your thoughts below