It’s not everyday you are able to see the Tony Award winning production of “Cabaret” by Roundabout Theatre Company. “Cabaret” originally debuted in 1966 and celebrated it’s milestone 50th anniversary just last year! Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s production of “Cabaret” gives a racy, sublimely seductive performance with a chilling heart-stopping finale. Set in Berlin, Germany in 1929, it delivers a serious storyline and explores highly controversial issues such as; politics, abortion, homosexuality, drugs and prostitution. Some of these issues even hit close to home in the recent political turmoil and were scary and daunting at times. The musical takes you through a roller coaster of love, loss, power and hope with a lively, energetic and comedic first act followed by a dark, somber second act.
“Cabaret” tells the story of struggling American writer Clifford Bradshaw (Benjamin Eakeley), who visits Berlin in an effort to finish his novel. He meets and falls in love with Sally Bowles (Leigh Ann Larkin), a wide-eyed, charming, firecracker of a performer at the local, infamous burlesque joint, the Kit Kat Club. If you are expecting a magical, fairy tale love story, think again. Their love affair unfolds while the Nazi Party comes to power, and the plot is delivered by the interjections of one highly engaging, charismatic Emcee (Jon Peterson).
Emcee Jon Peterson was the showstopper for the evening. He navigates the storyline with an unforgettable presence. He was the type of emcee that you waited and wondered when he would come back. His captivating performance took you through every peak and valley, gut-wrenching emotion. His interaction with the audience made you feel comfortable and connected throughout the show. The whole theatre was fully engaged when he entered the stage. His introduction to Kit Kat girls and gents was hilarious and set his character for the evening. Rosie, Lulu, Frenchie, Texas, Fritzie and Helga (Kit Kat Girls) showed up in grimy, ripped up lingerie and stayed true to their characters throughout the dance numbers. While it may appear that the dancers were not completely in synch, a trained eye can see that it was a choreographic choice, as they remained fully true to their character even through the smallest movements from walking, stomping and kicking their legs.
Another anticipated number, Two Ladies’ did not fall short on shock factor. It was raw and over the top, coming to life behind a scrim with a blatant threesome and a jaw dropping literal sexual interpretation.
You could hear a pin drop during the much anticipated number “Cabaret”. Leigh Ann Larkin delivers a heart wrenching performance as the bubbly, yet troubled Sally Bowles. The piece was set in a much slower tempo than expected. It was not the upbeat swingy style music you would have anticipated, but worked for the serious mood of the second act. “ Another anticipated number, Two Ladies’ did not fall short on shock factor. It was raw and over the top, coming to life behind a scrim with a blatant threesome and a jaw dropping literal sexual interpretation. I was happily surprised to see the two ladies were actually played by a man and a woman, Lulu and Bobby.
The set design dazzled as you entered the theatre and for the most part was stationary with interchangeable moving parts. The orchestra was set above the stage area and created a constant energy allowing you to endure a full cabaret club effect. It was amazing to watch the musicians move through different roles and work together in multiple parts, effortlessly. The cast can not only sing, dance and act but also, some even played in the orchestra. Talk about a quadruple threat, they nailed it!
From light up pineapples to a giant oversized cane chair, and dancing with lit cigars, the props and choreography brought many fun elements of surprise. The choreography blended classic jazz and even acrobatic moments- but also the choreography stayed true to a swanky nightclub, non-technical style dance. The intro dance piece, “Don’t Tell Mama and “Mein Heir” were the cat’s meow and I wished for more dance pieces with Sally and the Kit Kat Girls.
Overall, what better way to spend the evening than with my inspirational dance mentor, Mr. Matthew Clark a highly acclaimed, innovative choreographer. in the dance world. His teaching has inspired the lives of dancers in United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. After the show I asked Matthew what he thought of it, he simply stated, “Whether you’re a fan of the show or not, the direction of the production definitely made a provocative statement that has a semblance of the present.” We could both agree that certain moments of the show did not completely draw you in and at times, we were not completely engaged.
I am no stranger to the Cabaret, in fact I have been living, eating and breathing it or the past three months. When I learned “Cabaret” was coming to Shea’s, my dance company and theatre enthusiasts at Expo Market decided we would put together a pre-show to entertain theatre goers with the production coming to Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Through much research and inspiration from my team and mentor we are excited tonight to bring you our version of “The Foxie Cabaret”. Come visit us tonight between 6:00-7:30pm at Expo Market for a glimpse into our imagination.After all, what good is sitting alone in your room, come hear the music play…