EXCLUSIVE: Life is literally a Cabaret for Aimee Lou Wood, star of Netflix comedy Sex Education and awards season movie Living, who is rehearsing to make her West End musical debut as Sally Bowles in the radical revival of the classic show by John Kander and Fred Ebb.
Wood joins John McCrea, who was the original Jamie in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at The Sheffield Crucible and in London, and is taking on the role of the Emcee.
They begin their performances in director Rebecca Frecknall’s production of Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Charing Cross from February 13.
Wood says that she suffered from stage fright when she was a kid — “shyness and fear” stopped her from performing. “I couldn’t get up and sing in front of anyone,” she recalls. That was until she hit 16 and picked Maybe This Time, a number from Cabaret, to perform during an audition for a role as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.
“I just remember my drama teacher being like, ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ I got the role, played Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and everyone was like, ‘wow,’” she adds.
”The fact that Maybe This Time was my first ever audition, and now I’m going to sing it in the West End is kind of mad,” she says, smiling broadly.
The 28-year-old adds that Margaret, the role she plays in Living opposite Bill Nighy, inspired her to go for the role of Sally Bowles in Caberet. “When I got this thing through, so many people were like saying that in terms of career progression, it isn’t a great choice because you want to keep yourself free for a big movie or something. But I’ve got an amazing agent, and she was like, ‘Aimee, this is your dream part. You’ve said you wanted to play Sally Bowles since you were 11. Do it. Do it. It’s for you.’”
“I want to play Sally Bowles and I want to stretched by it, stretched out in my comfort zone. I want to feel like a different person when I finish this job because that’s what I want to do with my life. I don’t want to be thinking constantly about the next right step on the ladder, because there is no bloody ladder. It’s all imagined anyway,” she says chuckling.
She and McCrae are now rehearsing with Cabaret’s associate director Jordan Fein. Although McCrae notes that because of the nature of the show’s staging, the Emcee engages more with the audience “and I can’t rehearse with them,” says Wood.
Jessie Buckley and Eddie Redmayne played the leads in the revival, which started in 2021. Producer Adam Speers of co-producer ATG Productions says his team knew of Wood’s love of Caberet some time back and had kept in touch before she was cast.
He says that the new cast, including Nathan Ives-Moiba playing Clifford, will play the roles until May 27 when the parts will be recast again.
The show’s an ATG/Underbelly production. Designer Tom Scutt redesigned the interior of what’s normally the Playhouse Theatre, transforming it into the Kit Kat Club, a notorious dive in Weimar Berlin.