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Life is a Cabaret; From a Saturday night talent show to an iconic lead role. Vicky Anderson talks to the new Sally Bowles Women's own Latest film reviews Little Rascals City dates for band.

Byline: Vicky Anderson

SALLY BOWLES is one of the most memorable characters, with some of the most legendary numbers, in the history of musicals.

The unforgettable performance from Liza Minnelli, in the film version, and stage portrayals by such formidable talents as Dame Judi Dench and Jane Horrocks have cemented Sally as one of the top female roles in theatre.

No pressure on newcomer, 17-year-old Samantha Barks then.

The teenager from the Isle of Man became a household name earlier this year when she got to the final of I'd Do Anything, the prime time Saturday night talent hunt to find the perfect Nancy for the next London production of Oliver.

She came a respectable third, losing to Jodie Prenger, and is the first of the final 12 girls in the competition to land a highprofile major role since it aired.

The seven-month tour of Cabaret has just begun in Birmingham, with the first reviews of Samantha's performance overwhelmingly positive, with one regional paper saying the singer, to use the tired reality TV parlance, had "made her own" the likes of the title song and Maybe This Time.

Although, alongside that, some have wondered whether a 17-year-old would be able to bring in the life experience to carry such a complex and demanding role.

The proof will be in the pudding when the show - another Bill Kenwright production - rolls into the Liverpool Empire from September 22 to 27.

Veteran dancer Wayne Sleep leads the cast as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Club of pre-WWII Berlin, where most of the action of Cabaret takes place. It is a return to a role that Sleep has played before in the West End to high acclaim.

Henry Luxemberg, who played serial killer Toby in Hollyoaks a few years back, is another familiar face in the cast, as Cliff (the American stage character that became Michael York's uptight Brian in the film).

T HE classic musical, by Fred Ebb and John Kander, is full-to-bursting with memorable songs including Mein Herr, Wilkommen and The Money Song.

Samantha's enthusiasm is apparent, but the frightening fact that she is not long out of secondary school keeps making its way into conversation.

Living in the Isle of Man means she has often visited Liverpool and is a regular attendee of the theatre on which she is about to tread the boards.

"The Empire is incredible," she says.

"It's only about a year ago I went there with my school to see Grease, and now, a year later, I'm going to be on the stage!"

If she has the role down, it's because she learned from the best, having had a one-to-one tuition from the ultimate Sally on national television.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to get this part. Cabaret is one of my favourite shows ever.

"Having met Liza Minnelli, right, during the filming of I'd Do Anything, I'm beside myself with excitement.

"It's been just the most fun few weeks of my life, such a great experience and a great opportunity, I've learned so much and I'm working with some incredible people. Sally's a lot of fun but a very deep character to play. She's all fun and laughter on top, but that's definitely not what's going on underneath.

"There's some fantastic numbers. In Cabaret, there's such a mix of emotions going through each song and the routines are bizarre and brilliant. Everything is challenged in this - dancing, singing and acting.

"Mainly my background is singing, but acting has slowly become my passion. I love being able to tell someone else's story."

With some live singing experience before going on I'd Do Anything, she has a number of songs available on her website, www.sambarks.co.uk, having released an album, Looking in Your Eyes - a performance of a song from which recently won her the best foreign singer award at the Malta International TV Song Festival.

She had such support from back home during her run on the show, it was jokingly renamed the "Isle of Sam" for a day.

"I knew I wanted to pursue musical theatre, I just didn't know how to go about it, and that's why I applied to go on the show. I just really wanted to be in this industry and just started going to every audition.

"It's hard to believe that, one year ago, I was in the Isle of Man finishing my GCSEs."

CABARET is on at the Liverpool Empire from September 22 to 27 with Wednesday and Saturday matinees.

Tickets are pounds 8.50 to pounds 32.50. Box office 0844 847 2525 or visit www.liverpool empire.org.uk vickyanderson @dailypost.co.uk

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Wayne Sleep as Emcee, and Samantha Barks as Sally Bowles, on stage in Cabaret
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 12, 2008
Words:792
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