‘Cabaret’ is a riveting and inviting GLT production
October 27, 2011
By Jordan Stack
Leave your troubles at the door; you’ve arrived at the Kit Kat Club. With its vibrant, sexually charged cast, wonderfully perverted Emcee and an undercurrent of catastrophe, Great Lakes Theater’s “Cabaret” brings to the table a heavy dose of uncomfortable, yet absolutely delightful musical theater escapism.
This musical is set in 1930s Berlin at a cabaret called the Kit Kat Club. The air is thick with sweat and cheap perfume as the Emcee introduces the audience to two doomed love stories—one between damaged cabaret performer Sally Bowles and naïve American novelist Cliff Bradshaw, and the other between Fraulein Schneider, the middle-aged landlady of where Sally and Cliff reside, and Herr Schultz an older Jewish store owner.
The story unfolds to the accompaniment of extravagant and moving music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The constant threat of the Nazi’s rise to power is an underlying theme throughout the musical, and the music shifts accordingly as the lighthearted nature of Act 1 gives way to the more somber Act 2. Director Victoria Bussert, along with a brilliant cast, make for an emotional rollercoaster ride that doesn’t stop until the lights of the theater come back on and modern day reality sets in.
Eduardo Placer plays the flirtatious, sexually aggressive Emcee, who is the face of the Kit Kat Club and all its decadence. He represents both the carefree lifestyle within the Club and the looming doom that exists outside it. He also provides much of the humor found in this otherwise sober musical, and is wonderful.
All of this is on display when Placer brings out an adorable toy marionette that sings “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” that breaks into a Nazi salute upon the song’s completion.
Neil Brookshire and Jodi Dominick play Cliff Bradshaw and Sally Bowles, respectively, and are wonderful as the madly-in-love by woefully dysfunctional couple. Their love and their struggle to maintain it are very believable. Dominick’s voice is remarkable as she offers the show’s most well-written and powerful musical numbers, which includes the powerful title song “Cabaret.”
Laura Perrotta as Fraulein Schneider and John Woodson as Herr Schultz represent forbidden love in the new world order and do so marvelously through song and stellar acting.
The assorted cabaret boys and girls are also wonderful. Each sexually charged dance sequence, choreographed by Gregory Daniels, features each dancer and showcases his or her unique personality and talents. In fact, in the opening musical number in Act 2, the ensemble plays different musical instruments to complement the fantastic orchestra under the direction of Matthew Webb, which adds to the assortment of odd twists and dramatic turns that constitute Cabaret.
Riveting, sexual and inviting, Cabaret is for theater goers who like their entertainment laced with serious subject matter. The efforts of this cast and crew will surly make your jaw drop from the sheer exuberance of their performance as well as the drama that unfolds. Cabaret continues on stage at the Hanna Theatre in PlayhouseSquare until October 30th.