Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Cabaret"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark


Book by Joe Masteroff
Based on the play by John Van Druten
& stories by Christopher Isherwood
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Directed & Musical Staging by Rick Lombardo
Musical Direction by Todd C. Gordon
Choreography by Kelli Edwards

Scenic Design by Peter Colao
Lighting Design by Franklin Meissner, Jr.
Costume Design by Frances Nelson McSherry
Wig & Makeup Design by Michael King
Assistant Stage Manager Amy Weissestein
Production Stage Manager Carola Morrone

Emcee.............John Kuntz
Cliff.........David Krinitt
Ernst...........Paul Giragos
Schneider.....Cheryl McMahon
Kost.......Shannon Lee Jones
Sally Bowles...Aimee Doherty
Victor..........Dan O'Connor
Schultz......Paul D. Farwell

Cherp Bourne, Jordan Kai Burnett, Casey Connolly, Jason Modica, Danielle Morellino, Maurice E. Parent, Joel Perez

Michele A. DeLuca, Annie Kerins

Peter Nicholas Romagna, Jeremy A. Towle

Keyboard 1........Todd C. Gordon
Keyboard 2............Matt Stern
Reed 1..............Heather Katz
Reed 2................Jeri Sykes
Trumpet.................Tim Cote
Trombone...........Rick Copeland
Guitar/Banjo...William Buonocore
Percussion.........Zachary Hardy
Bass............Brian Grochowski

Okay, how many productions of "Cabaret" have YOU seen? And weren't they all Different? John Kander and Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff have tinkered and tweaked and teased it since 1967 until there is no "standard version" --- so how does this New Rep production helmed by Rick Lombardo differ from any you remember? It's a big-stage show (Thanks Peter Colao) with a dozen dancers cavorting (Thanks Kelli Edwards) in tuxes and scanties (Thanks Frances Nelson McSherry) to a 9-piece band (Thanks Todd C. Gordon) tinkling and thumping upstage; "Wilkommen" is there (Thank you John Kuntz), and of course "Cabaret" (thanks Amy Doherty) and the chilling "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" crushing the tender "A pineapple for me" and "Somebody Wonderful Married Me!" (Thanks so much Paul D. Farwell & Cheryl McMahon) --- yet after 42 years as an old war-horse the damn thing is New Again! How the hell did that happen?

Well, there is a contrast here between the physically inventive and always sardonic Emee of John Kuntz, and the uprightly laconic, honest yet ineffectual American that David Krinitt is as Cliff --- an ineffectual closeted bi-sexual finding his first real love. Between the two there's Aimee Doherty's Sally Bowles, much less interested in having a baby than having a "career" on-stage.

And Lombardo brings the true antagonist --- Adolph Hitler, projected on the Kit Kat Club stage --- on earlier than the shocking Act I finale, when apparent friends join voices with Nazi salutes. In their different ways, everyone in this play seems either ignorant or indifferent or eager about that tomorrow that "belongs to me." That tomorrow brought and end to the cabaret in which "life here is beautiful!" and probably death to the poor old Jewish fruit-peddler insisting "I'll survive; I am a born German!"

There is more dance here --- not center-stage turns and numbers, but whirling bodies reflecting the out-of-control chaos boiling out of Weimar Germany itself. And yet the focus again and again returns to the two blighted love-stories trying to keep hope and possibilities alive despite the ignored clounds pouring over the horizon.

Of course, last night's Press Opening night was also closing night for Rick Lombardo as Producing Artistic Director at The New Rep --- and that fact upstaged a powerful evening of exciting theater. He leaves behind a rich history of creative excellence and continually rising expectations. Now, like Cyrano, he is ready to play with the bigger boys out in San Jose California --- and, we all hope, to stop in here occasionally to put up a show, and thus to remind us all just how important to the history of theater here in Boston Rick's dozen years have been.
Thank you, Rick...


"Cabaret" (11 January - 1 February)
200 Dexter Avenue
1 (617) 923-8487

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide