Analysing the opening moments of any musical tells you a lot about the writer’s intentions for the evening to come. Here are five examples that illustrate how five very different shows set out their stall and manage your expectations from the start.
1. THE BIG BANG. Willkommen! From Cabaret
To my mind, this song is the perfect way to start the show with a “big bang”, the industry name given to this type of opening number. Infectiously catchy and building to an exhilarating climax it pins you to your seat breathless to discover what’s to come. But it’s job is far more complex than that, without our noticing it plunges us into the very alien world that will be our setting.
Even if you have no prior knowledge of pre-war Germany, by the end of this number, the lyrics have conveyed the fact we’re in Europe, the rhythms and brassy orchestrations tell us it’s a world that’s powered by a down and dirty sexuality, and it provides the creative team and the star playing the M.C. (The Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Club in Weimar Berlin) a great opportunity to be sleazy, naughty and a little bit dangerous.
There are many delicious performances of the song on YouTube, from big stage productions to intimate night club scale renditions (when it works best), but the version fronted by Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz is my favourite. Traditionally, the MC is either mysteriously androgynous (Joel Grey in the film) or playfully camp (Alan Cumming in the last Broadway revival), but Butz brings a dangerous sexuality to it that’s both scary and irresistible.Read the full article on LondonBoxOffice.com