January 24, 2000
"Willkommen" to Cabaret, the divinely decadent Tony Award-winning show, now running at the Paramount Theatre.
Co-directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, this reinvention of Kander and Ebb's hit musical is a captivating production that depicts hedonistic Berlin in 1929 through the eyes of an American novelist. The seedy glamour of Berlin's legendary Kit Kat Club with all its perversions comes to life at a time when Germany was descending into the darkness of fascism. An androgynous emcee (Jon Peterson) is the audience's guide for this tour, along with his group of raunchy, punk showgirls in ripped stockings, who swagger and slink their way around the stage.
The story details two doomed romantic couples, one of whom is a ditsy, British wannabe cabaret star, Sally Bowles (Joely Fisher), and the novelist, Cliff Bradshaw (Jay Goede). The other is a bittersweet courtship between Bradshaw's landlady, Fraulein Schneider (Alma Cuervo), and a Jewish grocer, Herr Schultz (Hal Robinson).
This production of Cabaret works so well because it has all the necessary ingredients for a blockbuster success. There is a terrifically talented cast, memorable music, a clever, yet simple set design, in-your-face choreography, and an absorbing story that is full of raw emotion. The ensemble of actors sing, dance, and portray their roles with passion and energy, never once faltering in their give-it-all-they've-got spirit.
Fisher belts out her numbers, particularly "Cabaret" and "Maybe This Time," and gives a stirring performance as a woman with dreams and false hopes. Peterson is perfectly snakelike in his movements and has a chilling, almost sinister persona. He gloats as he beckons, then lures the audience to creep deeper into Berlin's world of crumbling morals. Cuervo and Robinson make a touching, sweet couple whose chance for true happiness dies with the onset of bigotry in the Nazis' rise to power.
As the show nears its chilling conclusion, the glitz wears off and reality comes with a shocking jolt, proving that life is definitely not a "Cabaret," my friend.
Cabaret runs through Jan. 30. For ticket information, call 206-292-ARTS.