Review: CABARET at Gettysburg Community Theatre

On stage at Gettysburg Community Theatre through February 11th

By: Feb. 03, 2024
Review: CABARET at Gettysburg Community Theatre

Cabaret, with book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander, and lyrics by Fred Ebb, first opened on Broadway in 1966. Based on Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin and John Van Druten’s 1951 play I Am a Camera, Cabaret takes place in Berlin in 1929-1930. It explores the serious economic, political, and cultural events that heralded the rise of the Nazis against the backdrop of the Kit Kat Klub, a cabaret offering audiences an escape into the seeming decadence of the Golden Twenties. Gettysburg Community Theatre brings Cabaret to the stage under the direction of Chad-Alan Carr with music director Carrie Conklin and conductor Jamie Bowman.

The orchestra features Jamie Bowman (keyboard/conductor), Vanessa Rice (synthesizer), Cole Boudreau (drums), Chris Barnabei (bass), David Conklin (trumpet), Mo Okotie Uro (cello), and Laura Pennings (trombone and flute). While the sound balance was occasionally off on opening night, making it difficult to make out the singing over the instrumentation on a few songs, the orchestra never misses a beat and brings the iconic melodies of Cabaret to life.

The use of a basically bare black stage with simple chairs and tables used as needed is quite effective, allowing the music and the characters to truly be the highlight of the show. One of the most impressive aspects of this performance is the choreography, designed by Chad-Alan Carr with assistant choreographer Debbie Williams. The chair choreography for “Mein Herr” is incredible, and the dancers execute it while remaining perfectly in character. “Money” was easily one of this reviewer’s favorite numbers as the choreography, vocals, and emotions combine in an entrancing way.

Randi Walker (Rosie), Taylor Stahl (Lulu), Allisa Baker (Frenchie), Nina Cline (Texas), Lindsey Ringquist (Fritzie), Lexi Connelly (Helga/Gorilla), Andrew Metcalf (Bobby), Eric Walker (Victor), and Jessy Ringquist (Hans/Max) take the stage as the Kit Kat Club performers. They use their movements and facial expressions beautifully to heighten the emotions of the scene each and every time they are on stage. The youngest actor on the stage, Dexter Walker, deserves a special mention for his beautiful and chilling solo performance of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”.

Newcomers to the GCT stage N. Kay Lenhart and Ken Berry take on the roles of Fraulein Schneider, who runs a boarding house, and Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit seller who finds himself caught between his identities. Lenhart and Berry are funny and adorable in their roles, and the audience cannot help but root for them and feel their heartbreak and despair as the situation in Berlin tears them apart.

Drew Derreth and Debbie Williams bring tremendous energy, presence, and nuance to the stage as Ernst Ludwig and Fraulein Kost. Their vocals on “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” at the end of Act 1 are beautiful while their posture and expressions drive home the truly terrible implications of the song. Kaitlyn Ball and Cory Metcalf work well together as Sally Bowles, the Kit Kat Club performer from England seeking fame, fortune, and comfort and Cliff Bradshaw, the American writer who finds himself caught up in the tensions brewing in Berlin. Ball infuses Bowles with just the right attitude for the headliner at the Kit Kat Club. While the vocals were not the strongest of the evening, her energy and interactions with the other characters resulted in a solid performance. Metcalf’s performance as Cliff is beautifully emotional, drawing the audience into the story and the turbulent thoughts and feelings Cliff experiences as he falls in love with Sally, realizes the truth about Ludwig (who he thought of as a friend), and finally leaves Berlin with a story to tell.

Kyle Meisner is riveting in the pivotal role of the Emcee. From the very first moment, Meisner brings poise, showmanship, and mystery to the role. His incredible vocals and prowess as a dancer are highlighted wonderfully in this production; however, it is the complex emotion he brings to the role as the show progresses that really brings the story to life and makes its ending simply breathtaking and heartbreaking. Meisner’s performance alone makes it worth taking the time to see this production.

This historically and culturally important and emotionally hard-hitting musical runs through February 11th at Gettysburg Community Theatre. Visit the button below for tickets.

Photo Credit: Linda Toki