STAGE REVIEW: Cabaret at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Tuesday, November 19 to Saturday, November 23, 2019.

STUNNING and sensational!

It’s a warm welcome back as we are invited into the inner sanctums of the incredibly decadent Kit Kat Klub where you have to be broad-minded and prepared for a raunchy night in this Berlin fleshpot - a night-spot where just about anything goes.

Cabaret has long been a hugely popular musical since the mid-1960s, and considering all the fun in evidence there is also that element of fear which seeps into our sub-conscience about the nightmare that is yet to unleashed in just about very corner of the whole world.

The time lands us right in the middle of those sad and dangerous days of the early 1930s, as Germany inexorably heads towards the Nazi dream of conquering the world and director Rufus Norris certainly expertly guides his charges along a roller-coaster of emotions endured by both young and old. He has long been associated with the show.

So, ’Life really is a cabaret’…

Based on the play by John Van Duttenden, allied as it is to Joe Masteroff’s book, it demands that John Kander and Fred Ebb’s brilliant music and lyrics require iconic singers, and here there’s a veritable master-class with the likes of John Partridge and Kara Lily Hayworth in the two main roles.

Partridge is a top drawer Emcee with a delightfully develish delivery both sneering and camp. He’s a host of fun but with a dash of menace and a tinge of sadness, while Hayworth, who likewise has outstanding stage, television and screen credits, has been enjoying success in recent years with her band Zyrah Rose.

They have performed at top venues and reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent and have earned 15 million views on You Tube.

What a voice and one of the best performances of the fragile Sally Bowles I have have seen from the several Cabaret interpretations I have seen.

A musical regular in a number of shows, Partridge too is power and poise and fully fit for the purpose of entertaining.

As for other cast members show business stalwart Anita Harris is a first rate Frau Schneider, the lonely old woman who runs a lodgings and Herr Schultz, a fruit and veg shop owner, equally as lonely but he is Jewish and their impending nuptials are clearly doomed.

Also stylish performances from Charles Hegarty as sexuality confused American writer Cliff Bradshaw and Nick Tizzard’s keen-to-toe the party line Ernst Ludwig.

That is the show’s underlying message of race, world dominance and the power of the Aryan ‘master race’ using its jackboots to make the point and seize control.

German’s had survived the Great War, coped with food shortages and hyper-inflation. Now we can witness our characters increasingly concerned the good times are gradually disappearing.

Historically and possibly even politically relevant maybe.

Depressingly and difficult worrying times for Berlin residents and visitors as the mood darkens by the minute.

Many of the songs are now well known - Mein Herr, Cabaret and The Money Song, as well as the threateningly haunting Tomorrow Belongs to Me.

All stay in the mind but it’s one scene that is forever etched there - is the chilling finale.

This Cabaret - without question - has the ‘wow’ factor, no wonder it elicited an ecstatic standing ovation from an audience that was clearly spellbound.