From the moment you walk into the vast tented structure that is The Tipi, you know you are on for something very special indeed.
Arriving an hour before curtain-up, the venue is already busy, and bustling with the sounds of people dining and drinking pre-show. As you are shown to your table by costumed ushers you quickly realise you are in the heart of The Kit Kat Klub at the tail-end of 1929.
With drinks ordered and atmosphere building, in no time at all the orchestra have taken their places and the lights dimmed as the first strains of ‘Wilkommen’ are heard. From then on the production numbers come thick and fast. The spoken scenes are a little jarring at first, in comparison to the frenetic energy of the musical numbers, but they will surely gain pace as the run continues. A relatively long first half of 90 minutes closes with an ensemble performance of ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’ that will stay with you for a very long time. My companions and I were very grateful for the lengthy blackout that followed to regain our composure and pass round the tissues!
The waiting staff whirl into action and interval drinks are delivered and desserts brought to those dining. A chance to take a breather.
The interval draws to a close with a surreal promenade by the orchestra through the venue and a chance for the Kit Kat ‘girls’ to get up close and personal with the audience, and indeed they do!
The second half of the show obviously has a very different feel as the excesses of the ’20′s give way to the impending horror of the ’30′s. Even so, stand-out moments are a heart-rending delivery of ‘Maybe This Time’ and an exquisite comic performance of ‘If You Could See Her’. The second half flashes by in a lightening 50 minutes and the finale brings the audience to their feet.
Whilst it is difficult and a little unfair to single out individual performances in an ensemble piece such as this, it is unavoidable. Michael Kargus is an extraordinary ‘MC’- very much in the Alan Cummings mould rather than that of Joel Grey. He is engaging and sexy with just the right amount of arrogance and disdain. Sophie Berner re-defines ‘Sally Bowles’ and makes the role her own. A herculean task faced with those that have gone before her. Mogens Eggemann is wonderful as “Frenchie’ – one of the Kit Kat ‘Girls’. He can high-kick and do things in heels that some ‘real girls’ can only dream of!
This production is truly a one-off and a must-see event. Whilst, not the cheapest night you will ever have in a theatre it is worth every cent. Get someone to buy you a ticket for Christmas!