Cabaret | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Cabaret, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Joe Masteroff's musical, set in Berlin on the eve of the Third Reich, is simultaneously raunchy and bleak in this staging by director Gregory Gerhard and choreographer Wilfredo Rivera. Inspired by the recent Broadway revival directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, this violent, starkly sexual production offers a nightmarish experience charting the devolution of Weimar decadence into Nazi degeneracy.

Based on Christopher Isherwood's semiautobiographical tales, Cabaret recounts two ill-fated romances: bisexual writer Cliff Bradshaw's infatuation with cabaret singer Sally Bowles, and the courting of middle-aged landlady Fraulein Schneider by Jewish grocer Herr Schultz. The action is carried forward by a leering Emcee who regards everything as a dirty joke until he ends up in a concentration camp wearing a yellow star.

Though David Elliott is a good actor with a fine baritone, he seems miscast as Cliff. Beefy and balding, he's no leading man--nor does he convey the sexual confusion that motivates Cliff to attempt conventional love and marriage with free-spirited Sally, played by bravura belter Lauren Creel. Danny Kaye look-alike Michael Ehlers is the high-kicking Emcee, Robin M. Hughes and Dan Loftus are touching as Schneider and Schultz, and Elise Kauzlaric is carnality incarnate as dominatrix prostitute Fraulein Kost. The onstage band sometimes drowns out the dialogue due to erratic miking; even so, this Cabaret makes a strong impact.

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