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Cabaret - the musical - by Auckland Theatre Company: A Real Great.

On Saturday Fran and I took in Cabaret at the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent which is temproarily set up at Auckland's viaduct harbour.

Cabaret isn't only a good excuse for some great songs and raunchy dancing, although those things are good, and don't need any excuse. It is also, as Director Michael Hurst notes in his notes in the programme, a cautionary tale reminding us to fight totalitarianism which might seek to shut the clubs and take their desire to 'clean-up' to horrific lengths: killing lots of people that don't agree with them. So, for a musical in which everyone you like dies at the end, it's incredibly good fun.

The audience loved it too. There was only one point where I felt like someone should hold up a sign saying 'it's alright to laugh' - that was at the end of "If you could see her". A dance done by Hannah Tasker-Poland with a heavy leg brace on, where she is pretending to be handicapped (who were also a target of the Nazis) finishes with the emcee singing "If you could see her through my eyes, she wouldn't look Jewish at all". What Hurst has done is take the Cabaret back to it's original (in various versions it has been mucked about with quite a bit). This is one example. Wikipedia notes that the line was changed in some productions:

'"She wouldn't look Jewish at all," which, while meant to be anti-anti-Semitic, sounded so anti-Semitic that it was changed.'

I think the production was brilliant, and also that the audience did get it - but not quite quick enough to laugh right then. All in all the show was great: the atmosphere of the unusual venue, the decision to run with the original format, the choreography, the perfomer's energy, and the incredible dance involving both Mike Edward and Ebon Grayman. Anyone who works out can appreciate just how hard it is to achieve their strength, anyone who has danced can appreciate just how hard it is to achieve their grace - but both together...

As an aside, I think the play is also about the balance between short-term happiness, and long-term happiness - and that governments should broadly keep out of the constant search for the right balance between those that individuals are striving to arrive at.

Here is the ATC site link (some good photos)

Here is the NBR review.

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