note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
That fabulous musical, CABARET, at New Rep through February first, is artistic director Rick Lombardo’s last hurrah in New England. In fact, he’s already left for California to start his new position as artistic director of the San Jose Repertory Theatre. What a thrilling ride it’s been for audiences during his tenure, especially for lovers of musical theater.
Lombardo’s CABARET features a decadent, smoke-filled little bistro center stage, presided over by an edgy master of ceremonies (portrayed with cynical grandeur by John Kuntz). Just above the Kit Kat Club sits CABARET’s razor sharp, note perfect orchestra, led with fearless gusto by the gorgeous (!)Todd Gordon. The orchestra is one of the elements that set this production apart.
Another is Lombardo’s gentle touch with the romance between Sally Bowles and her writer/lover Cliff. Aimee Doherty brings an ache of deep longing to the role of the plucky songstress. When she sets her sights on David Krinitt’s earnest, thoughtful Cliff, we immediately see why. He’s sensitive, dashing… he’s a man of principle and he’s her security.
The Kit Kat dancers embody the cynical zeitgeist of post WWI Berlin with a vengeance, slouching and slinking to Kelli Edwards’ suggestive choreography. The women ooze erotic abandon in Frances Nelson McSherry’s kinky costumes. It’s the production numbers (reflected in Peter Colao’s distorted mirrors) which drive home the horror which soon will have Germany, and the world, in its grip.
Paul Farwell gets to break our hearts as the Jewish grocer who thinks the Nazi uproar is only temporary. He assures his lady love (a funny Cheryl McMahon) that the violence “will pass” but we know what he doesn’t, of course, which is the brilliance of Joe Masteroff’s book (based on stories by Christopher Isherwood). Only Cliff can see that it’s “the end of the world.”
Paul Giragos makes their Nazi friend a chilling villain but it’s Kander and Ebb’s faux anthem, “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” (beautifully echoed at the end of Act I by Shannon Lee Jones) which will stop you cold. We’re going to miss Lombardo’s dark, smoldering musicals and Rachel Harker’s delicate, effervescent performances. Auf Wiedersehn, as the Germans say.