Cabaret; a salacious musical on Auckland's waterfront

Cabaret by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Auckland Theatre Company
Directed by Michael Hurst
Salon Perdu, Spiegeltent, Viaduct Basin
Until November 20th

If you are a bit of a prude you need to get along to see ATC’s Cabaret. You will be shocked and apoplectic.

This musical doesn’t just feature salacious lyrics; there is also an excessive amount of bare flesh and bare breasts along with generous displays of phalluses (albeit silicon and metal).

If you are only looking for a great night out with some spicy titillation then this is the show for you but make sure you get there before starting time to see the pre-show raunchy acts.

This is the best production of Cabaret ever staged in Auckland and its setting inside the Spiegeltent  on the Auckland waterfront - a party central for the licentious and depraved – is a brilliant combination of theatre and nightclub.

The plot line of the musical is pretty simple. Two tales of Boy meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl. One of them concerns Clifford Bradshaw an American writer who falls for Sally Bowles, an English girl who performs at the Kit Kat Klub. The other is about two aging people who live in an apartment building. These two tales are threaded through with the political and social changes happening in 1930’s Germany with the growth of the Nazi party.

The political undertones about corruption, anti Semitism and fascism are powerful and relevant even today. Many Germans still find the singing of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” a folk song adapted by the Nazis chilling and a reminder that evil intent can be easily masked by sentiment.

At the core of the play is Michael Hurst who plays the MC and other roles. He brilliantly creates parts which are sinister, evil and depraved, characters that hint at the underbelly of German society. His version of “If You Could See Her” in which he dances with a disabled Jew is risky and disturbing.

Amanda Billing as Sally Bowles gives a forceful performance and her interpretation of the final Cabaret number is riveting. The song is often sung in a lively fashion but her drunken version which is full of misery, confusion and despair is emotional and introspective.

What really make this production is the exceptional direction of Michael Hurst.He has ensured that there is always something happening. There are girls strutting around the aisles, actors chatting up audience members, stage managers tidying up after the performers and some spectacular cabaret acts.

One of the highlights is a Wagnerian sketch in which a magnificent blond German (Mike Edward) vanquishes a muscular Negro (Ebon Grayman) in a mythic account of Aryan superiority.

Tyran Parke as Clifford Bradshaw is great as the Everyman/ Observer who watches his life and the ones around him collapse.

As the doomed older couple Paul Barrett gives a thoughtful Herr Schulz and Lynda Milligan a perceptive Fraulein Schneider.

The little band which plays throughout gives a flawless performance providing just the right level of sound and expressive backup.