Theatre Mirror Reviews - "CABARET"

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1997 by "Angel"


at the Hasty Pudding Theatre, Boston

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

Cast of Characters

Master of Ceremonies - Jonathan Hammond
Sally Bowles - Becca Ayers
Clifford Bradshaw - Christopher Yates
Ernst Ludwig - Patrick Emerson
Customs Officer - Stuart Metcalf
Fraulein Schneider - Marni Nixon
Herr Schultz - Spiro Malas
Fraulein Kost - Tina Stafford
Max - Seth Teter
Bobby - Michael A. Ballos
Kit Kat Girls
Lulu - Pam Bradley
Fritzie - Marci Reid
Helga - Heather Ayers
Texas - Tina Stafford
Gorilla Showgirl - Pam Bradley

Production Staff

Directed by Julianne Boyd
Choreographed by Hope Clarke
Set Designed by Donald Eastman
Costume Design by Jeffrey Fender
Lighting Design by Victor En Yu Tan
Sound Design by John Sibley, Jim van Bergen
Musical Director Darren R. Cohen

Stage Managers Janet Howes, Jay McLeod
Conductor/Pianist - Stephen Oremus
Reeds - Holly Stevenson
Percussionist - Stephen Giunta
Bass - Siobhan Kelleher
Trumpet - Donna Gauger

"Wilkommen," he says daringly...

The Kit Kat Club, where we find ourselves to be guests, is lewdly enchanting in its glitzy and nearly pornographic invitations, and appropriately garish and grotesque in costumes and manner. The remarkable Jonathan Hammond as the Master of Ceremonies captures us in his dazzling and outlandish ways. His mystical manner of appearing anywhere the action is most shocking gives a belly punch OOMPH, doubling the shock value of the already dramatic scenes. Hammond steals the show and is well backed by the similarly garish Kit Kat dancers, Pam Bradley, Marcy Reid, Heather Ayers, and Tina Stafford.

This Master of Ceremonies is completely "in your face" with his sexuality, nearly fondling himself in the opening number, wearing a corset like the other dancing girls in another and only a white silk diaper on New Year's Eve, and even singing and acting out the song "2 for 1" with two of the club girls which bluntly describes their menage a trois lifestyle. Our evil host is equally blatant in his commentary on the changing world in the brewing political nightmare. The prejudice of Nazi Germany against the Jews is clearly defined and grotesquely pointed out in the dance the MC does with his girlfriend, the gorilla, in which he says, "You wouldn't think she was so bad if you knew her like I do." He goes on to add in the very last line something to the effect of, "You would hardly know that she's a Jew." (Gasp! "So that's what she represents?!" I thought.) I was horrified - and by the fact that not ONE person in the audience clapped after this well done musical number, it's fairly clear to me that most everyone else was similarly affected. The horror only escalates as the prejudice escalates, completely tearing apart the relationships we have watched bud and grow during the first act and expect to see come to fruition with marriage and children by the end of the second.

Marni Nixon is Fraulein Schneider, an aging German landlady who falls in love with the fruit seller Herr Schulz, played by Spiro Malas. When he gives her a pineapple as a gift, she is so charmed she sings to him, "It Couldn't Please Me More" if he brought her many other expensive things - demonstrating the purity of her love in a charming and well sung piece. She is so blind to love and/or ignorant of the political climate that she doesn't realize that his being Jewish will be a problem until Nazi Ernst Ludwig, played by Patrick Emerson, informs her of it at her engagement party. Both Nixon and Malas are outstanding singers, and manage to maintain the difficult German accent thoughout their songs. Malas' deep rich baritone and Nixon's talented voice and broad range harmonize very well together.

The other love story is that of the star of the Kit Kat Club, Sally Bowles, played exceptionally well by Becca Ayers, with the aspiring American writer, Clifford Bradshaw, played by Christopher Yates. Sally hits on Cliff at the club one night and shows up at his boarding room a few days later to move in. Even in her desperation Sally is so persuasive and wild that boring old Cliff is literally "bowled" over by her and has no choice but to agree and to fall in love with her after a very short time. Ayers is a particularly strong singer and her other solo, "Maybe This Time", which is a poignant comment on how important her relationship with Cliff has become, is phenomenal. Cliff's one inspiration is to flee when he feels the Nazi kettle starting to boil, but he is incapable of Sally's persuasive talents. She is blind to the danger and not convinced she should give up her career and when Cliff denounces her career as worthless it's pretty obvious what will happen. Her headliner song "Cabaret" right after this argument at the club in front of everyone is melodramatic as she fights tears trying to let the show go on and doing so - but singing with sarcastic nuances and body language that show she doesn't quite believe that life is a Cabaret so let's all have fun. Something important is gone and she knows it, but it's just as important that she feel the pain as she did the pleasure; one can't be felt without the knowledge and experience of the other, despite the difficulty of the experience.

"Wilkommen" he says again daringly, daring us to experience life sharply and purely - from joy and entertainment, raw sex, and pure love, to prejudicial hatred and loss and desolation - the extremes of pleasure and of pain. This Cabaret, directed by Julianne Boyd, is a snapshot of the rollercoaster of life, a remarkable journey not soon forgotten.


entire contents 1997 by "Angel"

"Cabaret" (till 4 January)
12 Holyoke Street, CAMBRIDGE

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide