What to expect at 'Cabaret' at the Kit Kat Club in the West End

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

One of the huge excitements of the Olivier Award-winning West End revival of Cabaret is that you’re not just booking to see the show, but also for a special immersive experience. From the moment you enter the building, you’re plunged into the decadent world of the Kit Kat Club, getting the same thrill that Clifford Bradshaw experiences when he discovers the club in pre-war Weimar Republic Berlin.

So, what can you expect when you visit London’s totally transformed Playhouse Theatre? Obviously we won’t give away all the secrets, since discovering them on your visit is part of the fun, but – like the finest cabaret performer – we’ll give you just a tantalising tease of what to expect at the Kit Kat Club.

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The show starts long before Cabaret begins

It’s definitely worth getting to the theatre early (we’d advise at least half an hour before the performance start time) so you can enjoy the full extent of the pre-show offering. You’ll feel the anticipation building as you queue up to enter a side door of the theatre and descend into a completely different world. It’s quite the “Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome”, as the Emcee would sing.

Designer Tom Scutt has not just brought his incredible talents to the production, but has also created a whole new look for the Playhouse Theatre. The subterranean entrance sets the mood for our initiation into this grungy, transgressive, hidden nightclub, where grit and glamour rub shoulders. It’s simultaneously seductive and menacing – exactly the combination that drives Kander and Ebb’s musical.

The scale of the redesign is jaw-dropping. There are vast artworks, floor-to-ceiling fringed curtains, eerie neon lights, and carefully coded aesthetic references: think Bauhaus and Art Deco. It makes you feel part of the Cabaret world long before the performance begins, and blurs the boundaries between the contemporary place we just left and the show’s Berlin. That’s crucial to director Rebecca Frecknall’s urgent, topical revival.

There is a whole other Cabaret cast

The production is now led by the brilliant Fra Fee and Amy Lennox (to Oct 2022.) But it’s not just the stage cast who deserves plaudits.

Bravo also to the prologue company, who set the tone for Cabaret as soon as you walk in. You’ll find these scantily clad dancers and musicians slinking into shadowy corners, performing behind the fringed curtains that you’re invited to peek through, or providing entertainment at the stylish front-of-house Gold Bar, which now looks like a pre-war wonder.

You immediately feel that illicit thrill of being a voyeur, and this clever use of a prologue company for the Kit Kat Club sets up various ideas that run through the musical – like blurring gender and sexuality, playing on desire, the complexity of transactional relationships, and the lure of escapism, whether through booze, music, sex or all three.

This Cabaret has its own cabaret tables

The revamped Playhouse Theatre now operates in the round. It has a small circular stage that revolves, and a much more intimate feel than its usual proscenium arch configuration. The capacity is now reduced from 832 to 590, and the stalls feel completely part of the action. That’s partly because you sit at cabaret tables with lamps, which feature the Kit Kat Club’s ever-present eye symbol, and landline phones. (Make sure you pick up the phone!)

You can even order a bottle of Moët and Imperial Champagne or indulge in a three-course tasting menu at your table, making you feel like a real customer at the club – one who is seduced by the era’s decadence and becomes blind to the oncoming danger.

Or, thematic parallels aside, sitting at a cabaret table and enjoying a delicious meal can add to a night out that extends far beyond just seeing an incredible show; it’s a truly unique experience. As Sally sings: “Right this way, your table’s waiting”. Here life really is a cabaret, old chum, and you’ll love this Cabaret’s Kit Kat Club.

Life is a cabaret… wherever you’re sitting in the theatre

The Playhouse Theatre is now transformed into the Kit Kat Club, and every seat offers a close-up experience of Cabaret. With dress circle seats for Cabaret, audiences can enjoy an uninterrupted view of the stage. Dress circle seats stretch across two sides of the auditorium, meaning you can choose which side you sit on. Why not see Cabaret twice and sit on different seats for both shows to deepen your Cabaret experience?

Whether you’re sitting at table seats, in the dress circle, or in the upper circle, every seat provides an outstanding panoramic view across the entire Kit Kat Club. In Cabaret, life is beautiful.

Book Cabaret tickets on London Theatre.

Originally published on

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