When most people think of Germany, one of the major events that is thought of is World War Two. However, before Adolf Hitler came to power, the country looked much different that one would expect. The scene was vibrant and full of life. Cabaret highlights the more risque parts of history while making audiences really think about what they were viewing, specifically how there really is no place in which all of your troubles can simply melt away.
Before going into the show, it is nice to have some background knowledge of what you are seeing. It takes place in Berlin, Germany in the years of 1929-1930. Most of the scenes are in a nightclub called the Kit Kat Klub. At the club, there are no rules, except to leave everything negative at the door. It’s a place of good times and no worries. Even though we are promised no worries from the start, they slowly creep in as the plot thickens.
The first character the audience meets is the emcee. Played by Randy Harrison, he definitely gave us something to remember. He had a lively stage presence and attitude that was contagious to the audience. It also helped that he was singing about some funny topics, because as the audience laughed, he came out of his shell even more. This was appropriate for the beginning of the show and it’s plot development. After that, we learn the names of the dancers at the Kit Kat Klub. They are the members of the cast that serve as the ensemble, and some of them also play in the orchestra, which is unique for a musical. We are introduced to other important members, but not many of them stand out above the standards of the industry. Sally Bowles (Andrea Goss) was okay in her role. During Sally’s iconic song, “Maybe This TIme,” it seemed she was trying too hard to force the emotion into the words, but it just wasn’t there. The love interest of Sally, Clifford ‘Cliff’ Bradshaw (Benjamin Eakeley) lacked chemistry on stage. Emotion was forced in this situation as well. Their singing was fine, but didn’t leave me with any certain feelings of awe or wonder. Overall, the cast was satisfactory, but nothing exceptional.
Technical elements were better than the casting. The set reminded me of the classic television show “Let’s Make A Deal” in which there are three doors that contestants get to choose from to reveal their prize. Everytime a door was opened, something new would emerge. It kept some mystery in the show. One thing that often gets overlooked in shows is the fluency of the scene changes. The way they were choreographed, something as simple as taking a chair off stage was artful and interesting. I applaud the stage managers working with the choreographers to make it a cooperative effort.
At the end of the show, there is a slap in the face of reality that Natzi Germany is coming to power, and this slap is even given through song. It makes the audience shudder with the thought of being alive in Germany during the second World War. It proves that you can only run so far from your problems before they catch up to you. Good theater is meant to make you feel something, and sometimes it is a sour taste in your mouth. However, the plot made me feel more than the actors did. It’s a good script, but this cast could develop it more and make it their own.