West End venue transformed into sleazy Berlin nightclub for Eddie Redmayne’s return


n historic theatre will be transformed into a sleazy Berlin nightclub for Eddie Redmayne’s return to the West End.

The Playhouse Theatre, a Grade II listed venue near Charing Cross that first opened in 1882, will become the Kit Kat club for the new production of Cabaret which pairs the Oscar-winning actor with Jessie Buckley as showgirl Sally Bowles.

Redmayne will play The Emcee in the seedy cabaret venue where staff and regulars devote themselves to the pursuit of pleasure against the background of impending war and rising Nazi terror – and the audience will get to experience the decadent atmosphere thanks to plans to make the West End venue a home for new immersive shows.

Simon Raw PR handout

Designs submitted to Westminster Council’s planning department show its owners, Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), want to build a temporary stage recreating a nightclub setting.

It also wats to strip back some of the fixtures and fittings in the basement to bare brick “intended to evoke its character as a basement club bar”.

The first thing theatregoers will see will be a cast member performing on a temporary stage above a brand new bar at the front of house for “a theatrical moment..by a single performer”.

In a statement to Westminster’s planners, ATG say the revamp is part of their attempt to “invest in developing new and exciting projects in order to bring audiences back to the West End as well as bringing in a new younger audience to experience these historic venues for the very first time”.

They said the work will “breathe new life” into the building and make it an venue able to put on “unique productions” different to the more traditional shows in the West End.

The work will also include “improvements to the theatre’s ventilation systems” which will become increasingly important as the West End attempts to recover from lockdown and tempt audiences back to busy theatres.

Dave Benett

The producers said: “The Kit Kat Club will completely take over and transform the Playhouse Theatre, creating a world of party, club, artists and of course Cabaret. Everything will be different, from how the audience enters the theatre to the transformed in-the-round auditorium and reimagined spaces with specially designed murals.

We’ll encourage all of our guests to explore every nook and cranny of the Kit Kat Club and this experience, combined with the pre-show entertainment and superb food and drinks available, really does mean that the show starts from the moment you come through the doors to the club.”

The hit musical, famously made into a film starring Liza Minnelli as the cabaret singer Sally, was inspired by the best-selling novels of English writer Christopher Isherwood and his own hedonistic adventures in the German capital as the Nazis rose to power.

Warner Bros

Redmayne’s stage career includes major roles at the Donmar Warehouse and his return to the stage comes 17 years after he won the Outstanding Newcomer award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his performance in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

Buckley was recently seen in the National Theatre’s acclaimed film of Romeo and Juliet which was made when the originally planned stage production was cancelled in lockdown.

The show opens on November 15 with tickets on priority sale from Monday (july 19) from https://kitkat.club/

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