Monday, August 9, 2010
LIZA MINNELLI AS SALLY BOWLES, SIMPLY TERRIFIC by The Fan Carpet
August 9 2010
The minute I lay my blanket on the ground it was obvious that this was going to be a special evening.
There's a sense of excitement at certain venues, and Somerset House is no different. Sitting in the peaceful square flagged by the magnificent neo classical buildings of Somerset House, I couldn't help but feel humbled in the presence of so much history and the people over the last three century's who have been lucky enough to feel in awe of this house.
History, along with the world's greatest musicals, has also become the theme for this particular night at Summer Screen. Over the last ten years we have enjoyed nostalgic treats such as Singing In The Rain from the 1950's, and West Side Story from the swinging sixties, but tonight was the decade of disco, where musicals were scarce, but one outstanding and memorable performance from Liza Minnelli and friends ensured Cabaret, from the 1970's, will be never be forgotten.
It really was a treat for Liza fans as the opening credits rolled. We adore her and we still smile at the portrayal of Sally Bowles. Born into Hollywood aristocracy with talent to spare and deep-well eyes, she has made a spectacular play of growing up. No battle is won. Addictions ravage her; marriages collapse around her and health and weight problems haunt her. But Life is a cabaret, or so the song goes.
Set in the early 1930s, Bob Fosse's portrait of decadent life in a decidedly decadent Berlin is both uplifting and grim. Not a typical movie musical it is comedic, dramatic, realistic, tasteful and ultimately thought provoking.
Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, plays an entertainer at the Kit Kat Klub, a German hot spot where the festivities are overseen by a charming Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey). She is determined to become a film star and willing to bed whomever she must in pursuit of screen tests. Brian Roberts (Michael York) is a mild-mannered lad from England who arrives and rents a room at her boarding house.
Romantic complications are provided by the handsome Baron Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem), who spends lavishly. The uneasy involvement of the trio provides the film's best scene, in which they all get drunk and a little touchy-feely. Nothing, but everything happens.
Griem, Wepper, and Berenson provide good support in their smaller roles, but the only one who comes close to stealing Minnelli's thunder is Grey in his Oscar-winning role as the sly emcee.
The musical numbers were masterfully staged by director Bob Fosse, who beat out Francis Ford Coppola as the year's Best Director at the Academy Awards in 1974. Nominated for ten Oscars, Cabaret won a stunning eight.
I remember watching Cabaret seven or eight times with my mother so I found it quite hard to restrain myself from blurting out the lyrics at the top of my voice. I couldn't get enough of it. The film (and Liza) makes me feel that I didn't know what to do, even if I didn't know who I was, or what I specifically wanted out of life, I did want life and I wanted experience. Afterall, what good is sitting alone in your room?
If you missed out on tickets this year - be sure to book well in advance next year. It's a night to remember.