A dazzling central performance sent an already great production of the musical Cabaret into artistic orbit at Laban theatre and surely heralded the birth of a new star.
Barney Fritz was nothing less than sensational as the Emcee of Berlin’s Kit Kat Club and rightly deserved comparisons with Joel Grey who won an oscar for the same role in the legendary 1972 movie version.
The youngster managed to capture the glee, cynicism and sinister charisma of the character as he sang his way through showstopping numbers including Wilkommen, Two Ladies, The Money Songand If You Could See Her – sung with a gorilla.
And in director Karen Rabinowitz’s version, the cast of final-year Trinity Laban Musical Theatre students never shied away from Cabaret’s Nazi backdrop, which has a special resonance today with the disturbing rise of nationalism in the West.
Barney was brilliantly supported by an all-singing, all-dancing cast that included Harry Newton as American writer Cliff, Hannah McPherson as landlady Fraulein Schneider and Jenny Coates as Sally Bowles, the role that made Liza Minnelli a megastar.
Choreographer Graham Newell created some terrific sequences, particularly one involving a couple – Eleanor Turner and Calum Rickman – who had to keep their lips locked in a kiss throughout the routine.
And the live band, under Mark Smith, never missed a beat as they belted out the show’s matchless score.
My only quibble was that the set and costumes weren’t quite sleazy enough and the chorus wasn’t sexually aggressive enough.
But this is nitpicking. Overall, it was a stunning show – and I’ll eat my hat if Barney Fritz doesn’t become a staple of the West End.
For the record, Jake Lomas played the Emcee, Michael McGeough was Cliff, Hannah Qureshi played Fräulein Schneider and Amy Blanchard was Sally in half the four shows put on at Laban.