site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Shining Lights - Cabaret

12th to 14th June 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Sense of ensemble shines through

Shining Lights' Cabaret, at New Greenham Arts, from Thursday, June 12 to Saturday, June 14

Peter Schaffer has complimented Shining Lights for being daring. They were certainly daring to take on Cabaret, and in many ways it paid off. It was cleverly staged, with many of the audience playing the cabaret patrons.

Once again, artistic director Pete Watt set a standard which many adult theatre groups would do well to emulate, with his chorus performers totally committed throughout the show.

The four male leads were excellent, both singing and acting, although I worried about the long-term effect of James Elliott's exaggerated vibrato on his voice! His cynical, seedy Emcee commented slyly on events, and Carl Stallwood was a worryingly sympathetic Ernst Ludwig, the manipulative young Nazi.

Neil Edlin captured the kindly nature of the old Jew Schultz in a very well-observed portrayal, and Peter Hartley-Kane was brilliant as Cliff, the idealistic American writer, and totally believable.

Unfortunately the female leads lacked the boys' insight and stage presence. Abi Preston's Sally Bowles would not have been the main attraction at any nightclub, let alone the sleazy, exciting Kit Kat Klub. It was difficult to believe in her character because the actress didn't seem to believe hi it either, lacking commitment and passion as she delivered her lines.

I kept being reminded that this was, after all, a youth theatre group, and here we come back to the choice of Cabaret. This is a very grown-up musical, which needs to be completely decadent if it is to succeed completely. The chorus girls here were very pretty and flirty, but too innocent and not world-weary enough. Nevertheless, for their first musical they did it well, with good singing and movement and a good sense of ensemble.