Hindi Greenberg: A marvelous ‘Cabaret’ for our current times (REVIEW)
Sierra Stages brings it again! Their dynamic, tuneful, acerbic, politically scary, sexy and wonderfully done musical had the opening night crowd cheering multiple times during the production and jumping to their feet with a long ovation at the end.
This deliciously bawdy but sneakily ominous musical debuted in 1966, with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and book by Joe Masteroff, based on John Van Druten’s play, “I Am a Camera,” which was adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 stories. A popular 1972 movie, starring Liza Minnelli, was based on the play. In the late 1990s, director Sam Mendes incorporated the movie songs into the established show and then turned up the sexual heat for an even more adult version. This amalgamation, which transferred to Broadway in 1998, has become the established version and is the one used by Sierra Stages.
Set in Berlin in 1929-1930, as the Nazis are proliferating and tolerance for anything non-Arian is decreasing, the story revolves around the relationship between American writer Cliff Bradshaw and naïve English cabaret performer Sally Bowles, as well as the nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, the notorious cabaret known for its debauchery, openly-fluid sexuality, and wild, carefree attitude, overseen by the decadent Master of Ceremonies. A sub-plot involves the doomed romance between German boarding house owner Fräulein Schneider and her elderly suitor Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit vendor. Although set in times past, this play is a timely cautionary tale of people living in a bubble, unaware of and/or ignoring impending dangers.
The 14 cast members are all superb. The tight vocal harmonies and athletic footwork of the scantily-clad Kit Kat Girls and Boys are excellent. Micah Cone is terrific as the over-the-top, menacing, seductive, enigmatic Master of Ceremonies, a role he tackles with unbridled gusto. The other leads — Heidi Grass as Sally (she can definitely belt out a tune), Jonathan Hansard as Cliff, Sue LeGate-Halford as Fraulein Schneider (fab singing), Louis Flint Ceci as Herr Schultz, Shannon Harney as Fraulein Kost (sexy and sinister) and Casey Burke as Nazi Ernst Ludwig — all contribute their excellence to the whole.
Scott Gilbert’s direction deftly encompasses both the tawdry and the joyous, the love and the fear; there is never a dull moment on Gilbert’s stage! The infectiously hot, jazzy sounds from the production’s rousing 10-piece band are energetically led by Musical Director and pianist Ken Getz.
Brian Arsenault’s choreography is hot, lurid, sensual and fabulous, displaying kinetic and frenetic movement. Costume Designer Paulette Sand-Gilbert’s lusciously decadent costumes for the dancers, combined with the impeccable period clothing for the other players, set the perfect tone. With beautiful, moody lighting from Erin Beatie and Devin Cameron Jewett, and excellent sound design by Greg Cameron on a visually and structurally amazing set designed by Gabriel Hannaford, the action flows seamlessly.
This is a “must-see” event, entertaining but with an important message: “If you don’t object, you are complicit.” Buy your tickets soon as this will sell out—it only continues at the Nevada Theatre through Aug. 3.
Hindi Greenberg loved the play, the music and the acting; but the “Nazi anthem” and the yellow Star of David gave her the shivers—she remembers the past and is concerned that history may be repeating itself.
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