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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 16, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 24
Willkommen to a darker (and an excellent) Cabaret
Arts & Entertainment
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Willkommen to a darker (and an excellent) Cabaret

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

CABARET, THE MUSICAL
BROADWAY AT THE PARAMOUNT
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
June 13-25


Cabaret is a darkly compelling musical that has left its mark on theatre history. While being one of the first musicals (if not the first) to stage events happening during the Weimar era and the rise of Nazi power, Cabaret is a fascinating (and entertaining) view into one of the darkest periods of humanity.

The storyline follows Cliff Bradshaw, an American novelist traveling through Europe to find his inspiration. It is the early 1930's and Cliff arrives in Berlin on New Year's Eve. He meets Ernst (a smuggler with a political cause) on the train and is immediately helped out in finding a room to rent. Cliff goes out to The Kit Kat Club, a small dingy, third-rate, sleazy nightclub. Aside from running into an old paramour, Cliff meets the British performer and 'the toast of Mayfair,' Sally Bowles, an infinite child that flutters from affair to affair in desperate search of good times and potential career. Sally coerces her way into Cliff's room and moves in with him. While Cliff sees the obvious political threat growing stronger, Sally remains oblivious with the attitude of 'life is a cabaret,' and their relationship mirrors the conflict and changes of the outside world until everything breaks apart.

This is a wonderful production of Cabaret. The Kit Kat Girls are all in sync with each other, play their parts well, and all do a great job showing the caliber of the club's clientele. The Kit Kat Boys are well built (much like the musical Chicago, another show by the team of Kander & Ebb), dressed scantily, and allow their fluid sexuality to flow through. Lucy Sorlucco (standing in for Alison Ewing on opening night) plays the supporting role of Fraulein Schneider. Ms. Sorlucco was excellent as the elderly Germanic landlady caught between her patriotism and wanting to start a new life with 'Herr Schultz,' a Jewish man in her building. When she sings the lamenting 'What Would You Do?' her voice soars and the audience feels every aspect of her conflicting emotions. The band is all in costume with many doubling as performers giving truth to the statement, 'even the orchestra is beautiful.'

Benjamin Eakeley plays the American Clifford Bradshaw. Eakeley's voice is strong enough for the introverted writer (based on Christopher Isherwood) experiencing new life, new loves and new emotions in Berlin. His character shows the right amount of hesitancy and inner conflict when he meets Sally, and we fall with him as he falls under her magnetic spell.

The two main stars of this show are the lead singer Sally Bowles (Leigh Ann Larkin) and the Master of Ceremonies (Jon Peterson). Ms. Larkin brings new life to Sally as the energetic, manic, waif who bounces from relationship to relationship, blind to the political climate, for all hedonistic pleasures. Larkin's voice is strong, and the audience can tell she is skillfully underplaying her abilities for the lesser talented Sally Bowles. She makes the show's title number her own, and the audience can see the emotional building and release through her vocals as she simultaneously captures both the heart of the song and that of the audience.

Jon Peterson plays the pansexual Master of Ceremonies for both the Kit Kat Club and the entire evening. He brings a well-played androgyny to the role, freely allowing the character's playful sexuality to seep out through every pore. Peterson's voice is perfect for the menacing imp, and he takes control of the role with fierce dedication. The M.C. is the debauched leader for the audience, showing us not only the sleazy underside of Berlin's hotbed behavior of the time, but also the struggles of the Depression and the impending monster of political climate that is looming in the shadows.

Cabaret is a show you'll want to see. While not intended for the younger members of the audience, because blatant sexuality runs rampant on stage with an almost constant allusion to sexual situations, the show is definitely an important one to experience. Bringing out the darkness (as with the 1998 Studio 54 Broadway revival), this musical is definitely not a light-hearted romp. But as the title song says, 'Life is a cabaret,' and this production should be toasted!



Cabaret is based on John Van Druten's 1951 play, I Am a Camera - which is in turn based on Christopher Isherwood's short novel, Goodbye to Berlin (1939). The musical first opened on Broadway in November 1966 and remained there for over 1100 performances. Originally starring Joel Grey (MC), Jill Harris (Sally Bowles), (Judy Dench would play the role in London), Jack Gilford and Lotte Lenya, the show was produced by the masterful Harold Prince and would go on to be nominated for 11 Tony Awards winning 8 including Best Musical 1967. The musical would be revived three more times including the 1998 revival (Alan Cumming as MC and Natasha Richardson as Sally) at the famous Studio 54.

Tickets to the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Cabaret direct from Broadway presented by Seattle Theatre Group and Broadway at the Paramount can be purchased through Seattle Theatre Group - https://www.stgpresents.org/, at the Paramount Theatre box office, or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

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Willkommen to a darker (and an excellent) Cabaret
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