Pop Idol Will Young impresses in Cabaret

Michelle Ryan and Will Young in Cabaret
Michelle Ryan and Will Young in Cabaret

WILL Young steals the show in this production of Cabaret that stopped off in Nottingham as part of a whistle stop nation-wide tour before it takes up residence in London’s West End.

While the former talent show winner of Pop Idol has proved his worth, in the decade since he won the show, with his singing and songwriting prowess, this will be his West End debut.

With numerous number one albums, sell-out tours and a couple of film and stage credits already under his belt, it seems there is no stopping this 33 year-old who can now boast a commanding stage presence.

Critics might claim that his crude beginnings in TV and the Will-Gates contest was not the best of foundations in which to build a career beyond the initial hype and publicity, but he continues to prove his critics wrong.

Young plays Emcee in this stage show that first hit Broadway in 1966 before being transformed into an Oscar-winning film in 1972, starring the legendary Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles.

Even if you have never seen the film or experienced the show before and are unaware of the Cabaret beginnings, its songs have become iconic through the decades.

This latest production will appeal to a new generation as alongside Young is former Eastenders actress Michelle Ryan. It’s a far cry from her Zoe Slater days as she takes on the role of an English cabaret singer attracted to the American writer Cliff Bradshaw.

The show is based in the Kit Kat Klub of Berlin in the 1930s in the lead up to the Second World War just as the Nazis begin their rise to power.

The story switches between the relationship of the young couple and its sexual complications to the much deeper problems faced by the later-in-life love of Fraulein Kost (Harriet Thorpe) and Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz (Linal Haft). Sentimental scenes of courtship and seduction between the two couples are played out against a simple backdrop. This acts to heighten the crude contrast to the club scenes where the dancers present a sexy,sensual,stimulating and provocative performance wearing sequinned hot pants, lederhosen and little else.

The high kicks, impressive leaps and carefully choreographed routine is highlighted by the sultry lighting and dark shadows creating an atmosphere of titillation.

Cabaret delivers on many levels. It has the humour, the romance, the sex and the anticipation of the inevitable as history is retold.

Michelle Ryan, although an impressive CV and vocal talent not seen before, I felt there was something missing from her performance. In her raunchy scenes, especially in the beginning, she looked a little uncomfortable.

But this didn’t matter as inevitably, Will Young was as masterful an MC as Billy Smart at the circus. He kept the audience transfixed throughout his scenes with his punchy delivery, over the top expressions and showed total confidence in his character.

It was a real treat being exposed to all the delights of the Cabaret so close to home. But even if you missed it, it would be well worth the trip to the bright lights of the big city when it struts into the West End in October.