07 August 2022
Stage Theater Des Westens
3.0 out of 5.0 stars
Another show I treated myself to on my Berlin trip was a big musical, Ku’Damm 56. It’s been very successful in Germany and I wanted to see what it was all about.
Ku’Damm 56 is set, as the title suggests, in 1956, after WWII but before the wall went up in Berlin. The story focuses on a dance school owner and single mother of three daughters, who tries to hold on to traditional values while the younger generations, including her youngest daughter, started to embrace Rock’N’Roll and more modern lifestyles.
I did expect the musical to be more along traditional lines, due to the time it was set in, but I routinely forget that non-English speaking countries seem to generally be about 10 years behind modern ways of thinking as I am so used to, being immersed in a very open and accepting culture here in London. I tried to keep this in mind while watching the musical, but I do wish they’d offer some sort of content warning while booking the show as there is graphic r*pe, heaps of fat-shaming (of a straight-size character), severe homophobia (including conversion therapy depicted on stage) and more involved in this show. It is a lot when you’re unprepared for so much graphic hatred.
However, if you can look past all that and try to see it as a document to times gone by, it is a very interesting story of rebellion and budding feminism, tradition versus progress, a coming of age story in a politically and socially fragile society. The music is phenomenal, with stunning solos and gorgeous ensemble pieces.
There’s a lot of redeeming content in the story itself, but it does seem a little aged and not meant for modern audiences to me, maybe I’m just spoiled by London, I’m not sure. Still, it’s an intense musical with a fantastic soundtrack!