There are a few select theaters in the Twin Cities where I volunteer, Bloomington Civic Theatre being one of them. Volunteering gives me another perspective on theater, which I love. Greeting patrons with a smile and seeing all different types of people, depending on the show, offers a new lens in which to look at productions. “Cabaret” was no exception.
“Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome! Fremde, etranger, stranger. Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante. Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay.” The show opens in Berlin in 1929. A slinky night club filled with performers, people looking for a good time and a master of ceremonies. We are then introduced to an American man, Cliff, on a journey to find something to write about. He has traveled to many countries, and when he meets Sally Bowles, the star Kit Kat Klub performer, he has found just what he is looking for. Herein lies our story. We border on love, entertainment and the Nazi’s rise to power.
We find ourselves gazing at men dressed as angels wearing thongs, a monkey costume, a be-dazzling tap number, women performing a can-can with high kicks, the men’s ensemble singing a capella and more. Joe Chvala the Director/Choreographer has been praised for this show and rightfully so. I’ve seen the stage version once before and his take was very different from the other I had seen. He cut some songs and added others. One I missed hearing was “Maybe This Time” but a great addition was “Meeskite”.
The lyrics of the songs written by Fred Ebb are very clever. They embody the times. There are dark pieces about war, cheerful songs in the night club so as to distract the people from what is taking place outside its four walls, love songs, and beautiful company numbers. The opening song “Willkommen” left me glowing. I could not wipe the smile from face. The costumes, dancers, and singers all together was a feast for the eyes. By the end of the song I was in tears. To me, it was the epitome of what musical theater is; a rousing good time. I knew I was in for a treat.
There are some exciting players such as Joey Clark as the Emcee. He did a wonderful job with his enunciation of his songs, had a quirky demeanor and danced well. Abby DeSanto, who played Sally Bowles, was a lovely character actress. She delivered her speaking lines strongly which somewhat distracted us from the notes she had a hard time reaching during her big number “Cabaret”. Karen Weber, who played Fraulein Schneider, was superb at executing her German accent and playing the innkeeper of sorts.
“Cabaret” was loved by the audience, myself included. The show is playing now through February 17th, don’t miss it. For more information contact Bloomington Civic Theatre: http://www.btacmn.org/