We went to see Cabaret at the Sunderland Empire last night. This touring production (directed by Rufus Norris, featuring Wayne Sleep as the EmCee and Samantha Barks as Sally) really just served to show how brilliant the film was.
On the plus side, the stage show generally looked excellent, with appropriately tacky sets for the Kitkat Club and more subdued colours and lighting for the boarding house. Samantha Barks as Sally shows great promise and gave an impressive performance in the musical's better songs.
Unfortunately, attention to detail was sadly lacking. Anyone who knows a word or two of German can tell you that their translation of "Miss" is not pronounced "Fraw-line", and yet here, we had at least three supposedly German natives saying it that way. While that would be understandable in an amateur production, in the professional theatre it just isn't good enough.
The problems didn't end there. The whole thing didn't seem to "gel": while the female lead and the dancers were all thoroughly professional, some of the other major characters looked as if they weren't trying hard enough. Herr Schultz was given at least three songs but, sadly, Matt Zimmerman (playing him) showed no talent for singing. Jenny Logan's Fräulein Schneider sounded more like the cliché Jewish mother than a native of Berlin. Wayne Sleep seemed to forget to act at all for 50% of the time, and never came across as remotely convincing. Some of these problems are no doubt the fault of the musical itself, rather than the production: almost all of the songs omitted from the film came across as pointless and forgettable. "A pineapple for you"...what was that all about? The bottom line is entertainment value, and this one had us checking our watches more than once before the end.
Overall it was an interesting evening, but we're glad we didn't fork out for the more expensive tickets!