“Cabaret” Doesn’t Act Its Age As The Fox Presents The Roundabout Version

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Jon Peterson as the Emcee and the company perform the opening number in “Cabaret” at the Fox.

When I saw Joel Grey on tour with the original “Cabaret” at the old American Theatre downtown (I also saw him at the top of the Arch during that run- but that’s another story),  it was a frightening and eerie story and I remember how fascinating it was to see him pop up on stage and realize you never saw him hit that mark. That foreshadowing of how the Nazi regime creeped up in early 1930’s Berlin was a not so distant reminder of how they took that country and the world by surprise. Now, 50 years after that original story, “Cabaret” has been given an even darker look as it comes to the Fox Theatre and I’m afraid too many people aren’t seeing similar themes rise up in our current political spectrum.

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Cliff, played by Benjamin Eakeley and Ernst, played by Patrick Vaill, meet on a train to Berlin in “Cabaret” at the Fox.

By the tone of the conversations, that thought was looming heavily on a lot of folks around us in the theatre opening night. But even with the more ominous and somewhat sleazier look, the great Kander and Ebb score and the gripping story kept the audience enthralled. It didn’t hurt to have an outstanding cast either. From the opening “Wilkommen” number to the surprising new ending, Jon Peterson keeps you fascinated with his mixture of raw energy, sexual innuendo and charisma. His ad libs with audience members at the beginning of the second act are hilarious. He also, like Joel Grey from years ago, turns up in the most unusual places- sometimes just leering at the audience or other characters, sometimes dressed differently- but always that mixture of menace and mischievousness.

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Leigh Ann Larkin as Sally leads the ladies in “Don’t Tell Mama” at the Kit Kat Klub in “Cabaret” at the Fox.

Leigh Ann Larkin is one of the best Sally Bowles I’ve ever seen perform the role. She has a remarkable stage presence which helps out as she entertains the customers at the Kit Kat Klub but she brings a nuance to songs which have become standards like “Maybe This Time” (now interpolated into the stage musical from the movie version) and the iconic title number which she gives a whole new brand that works beautifully. Benjamin Eakeley is a wonderful Cliff as well. He becomes more than a third wheel between Sally and her frivolous ideas and pursuit of her dream.

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Mary Gordon Murray as Fraulein Schneider discovers Herr Schultz, played by Scott Robertson, has brought her a pineapple in “Cabaret” at the Fox.

Mary Gordon Murray and Scott Robertson make a fine couple as the older, more set in their ways folks- Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz- who believe the Nazis are just a passing fad. Their delightful duet of “It Couldn’t Please Me More” and his plaintive “Married” are highlights. Alison Ewing is delightful as the promiscuous denizen of Fraulein Schneider’s rooming house and Patrick Vaill is both friendly and disturbing as the ominous Ernst Ludwig. The large company of singers and dancers from the Kit Kat Klub are perfect as they grind and gyrate their way through the songs- most of which are filled with double entendres. The play is obviously not for children- although I saw a few them on opening night- but the “Two Ladies” number in particular is exceedingly explicit.

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Jon Peterson as the Emcee touts the benefits of having “Two Ladies?” during “Cabaret” at the Fox.

This is the version of “Cabaret” that started at the Domar Warehouse in England that starred Alan Cumming which was recreated and later revived at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Club- also starring Mr. Cumming . B.T. McNicholl directed with the original Sam Mendes staging and Cynthia Onrubia recreated the original Rob Marshall choreography. The slightly askew set- as befitting a trashy nightclub- was designed by Robert Brill and the equally lurid lights are the creation of Peggy Eisenhauer and Mike Baldassari. Costumes, including the provocative Emcee’s costume, are the work of William Ivey Long.

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The wonderful Kit Kat Klub band performs during “Cabaret” at the Fox.

If you haven’t seen the new incarnation of “Cabaret,” get ready for a much darker and more profound production. The wonderful music of John Kander and lyrics of Fred Ebb along with the book by Joe Masteroff are still there with a bit of a different take on the proceedings. It’s disturbing but highly entertaining and can be seen at the Fox through March 19th.

 

 

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One Response to ““Cabaret” Doesn’t Act Its Age As The Fox Presents The Roundabout Version”

  1. RegenAxe Says:

    Looking forward to seeing this show next week. I’ve really enjoyed this season and I’m especially looking forward to next year’s, what with Hamilton on the bill.

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