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Review: Welcome To The Carbaret!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Edinburgh Footlights’ Welcome To The Cabaret! by its Showchoir is a welcome, blissful two-hour escape from the realities of life.

Energetic numbers are astutely intertwined with evocative character developments under the creative direction of Amy Stinton. We get snippets of the characters’ lives as they deal with their overbearing producer (Ruby Loftus). The clever use of characters hooks the audience from the first act to the finale, providing a simple plotline to savour, suavely filling the transitions between iconic numbers.

Tom Steed and ensemble in ‘A Miracle Would Happen’ promotion image. Image by Andrew Perry Courtesy of Edinburgh Footlights

With classic numbers like ‘All That Jazz’ from Chicago, ‘Wait For It’ from Hamilton, and ‘Think of Me’ from The Phantom of The Opera, the show breaks through the boundaries of genre and time period. It fulfils the fancies of all theatre fans and immerses new ones with its innovative arrangement, thanks to musical director and pianist Falk Meier.

Tying all these elements together is a dynamic choreography; this is apparent in the ensemble finale, from ‘Wilkommen’ to ‘(Bows) Time Wrap’, as the cast fills the stage so dazzlingly it’s almost difficult to decide where to look. Even in relatively static moments, the performers’ visual composition on stage forms a vivid, aesthetic image, for instance, when the girls crowd around Tom Steed’s character (Jamie) in ‘A Miracle Would Happen’. Since most scenes are so visually full and appealing, it is difficult to feel bored by the show.

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All these elements are brought forth by the energetic, multi-talented cast. Gemima Iseka-Bekano, for instance, impresses with a powerful voice and swanky moves in ‘Bring On The Men’. The cast members all get to shine individually but also work wonderfully in the bedazzling finale, topped with glittery golden hats. The performance is corroborated by a bouncy band with a strong base, swingy piano and brilliant saxophone. Whilst they do not overshadow the performers, they are good enough to be very noticeable.

Gemima Iseka-Bekano. Image by Andrew Perry, Courtesy of Edinburgh Footlights.

The technical aspects of the production should not be understated. The minimalist set allows for props to be moved effortlessly between numbers and gives ample space for the performers to shine. Novel lighting techniques, such as using phone flashlights to light up the stage, are also used. Most of the time, however, it is the skilful, timely use of conventional lighting techniques that transforms the stage by creating tension and contrast within a single number and making each number from the ones before and after. Whilst these techniques are not particularly novel, it is the excellent use of them that shows the prudent deliberation behind each scene and setting, creating the ambience that makes it possible for the other elements to reach their full potential.

Overall, Welcome to the Cabaret! is a well-balanced production where all elements work together to create a simple but charming and fun show. It lures its audience into forgetting the cold outside and immerses them in some of their favourite iconic numbers, tied together with a snappy storyline.

The show runs from the 17th of March to the 19th of March

Image by Andrew Perry Courtesy of Edinburgh Footlights