BWW Reviews: Marriott's CABARET Allows Modern Classic to Shine
Leaving Marriott Theatre's production of "Cabaret" this past Saturday night, my lasting impression is more of a reverence for the script and score than for the production itself. After debuting on Broadway almost 50 years ago, I am continually struck by how ahead of its time the show was (and still have many of the Kander and Ebb songs on repeat in my head) and it is definitely the writing that is shining onstage in Lincolnshire. Not to say Marriott's production is not well done, however. It's a fine and entertaining performance, if not particularly exciting in any way.
The cast is a talented bunch who each do a fine job in the roles, although there is no stand-out (something that proves to be a bit disappointing when you have characters like Sally Bowles and the Emcee who really should do just that). Megan Sikora does a sufficient job as Sally, although lacked the depth needed for the audience to understand her plight. Stephen Schellhardt is a capable Emcee with a pleasing, smooth voice (and a striking resemblance to the Broadway revival's Emcee, Alan Cumming, who will be reprising his role in New York this spring), but he doesn't have the audience in the palm of his hand as he should. The weakest in the cast is Patrick Sarb as Clifford Bradshaw, the American novelist who gets caught up in the nightlife of Berlin. Sarb's singing voice is beautiful, but he seems to succumb to the character's straight-laced disposition without ever transgressing beyond his surface.
Of the entire cast, I surprisingly found myself feeling the most for Christine Sherrill's Fraulein Kost, despite having one of the smaller supporting roles. You can feel what Fraulein Kost has at stake in everything she did and it makes for a wholly complex character that is missing in much of the leading roles. Save for Kost, the performances aren't detrimental to the show, but nothing is added to production by them, either.
Perhaps the production's biggest setback is a first act that drags. It was hard to believe only an hour and a half had passed when intermission arrived. The pace could be picked up drastically in the scenes between Fraulein Schneider (Annabel Armour) and Herr Schultz (Craig Spidle). While well-acted, it feels as though to provide the needed sincerity of these scenes, each moment (and, even, each line) is treated so gently and carefully it causes the pace to drag. It doesn't help that the songs in these scenes ("It Couldn't Please Me More" and "Married"), while definitely important in establishing the genuineness of their love, stand out as a couple of the least exciting songs of the score.
David H. Bell's direction, teamed with Matt Raftery's choreography, makes great use of Marriot's theatre-in-the-round space; never better than in the most exciting number in this production, "Money," where all elements - the story-telling, the dancing, the vocals - compliment each other exactly as they should.
Overall, Marriott's production of "Cabaret" is a very well done production and deserves recognition. Although it's missing a bit of spark and star power, and despite the fact that my overall lasting impression is about the written musical and not the performance itself, there is certainly something to be said for a production that does justice to letting the "Cabaret" script shine as it should.
"Cabaret" is playing through March 16th, 2014 at Marriott Theatre (10 Marriot Dr. in Lincolnshire, IL). Regularly priced tickets range from $40 - $48, excluding tax and fees. Student and senior discounts are available for certain performances. Tickets are available at www.MarriottTheatre.com or by the calling the box office at (847) 634-0200.
Photo Credit: Peter Coombs/MarriottTheatre