BWW Review: Life is a CABARET at Florida Repertory Theatre!
Florida Repertory Theatre's production of CABARET brought to life the well-known, Tony Award-winning story of romance, exploration, 1920s German politics, and so much more. The entire cast was phenomenal and very strong in all aspects of this production; their singing, dancing, acting, the music... all truly incredible. Florida Rep more than did justice to this very infamous show.
CABARET at Florida Rep was choreographed by Arthur D'Alessio (and Stephanie Card, the Director of this fabulous production, who choreographed "Mein Herr" in addition to directing), and I must commend how fantastic it all was. CABARET is a very dance-filled show, and I appreciated how sassy and fun each number was. This was also one of the most grand and detailed sets Florida Rep has had this season, thanks to set designer Jordan Moore.
Gary Troy played the Emcee, who commented on and sometimes parodied what was happening in the show. Though his character was quite humorous, he also revealed some of the darker aspects of the storyline, especially at the end of the show. He set the tone from beginning to end; his "Wilkommen" drew the audience in right away.
Jillian Louis portrayed Sally Bowles, and she was absolutely spectacular. Sally is a complicated character; she acts relatively happy and carefree, often covering her true feelings with drinking and drugs, but underneath her façade, it is clear that she is dealing with a lot of emotion and turmoil. I thought Louis was incredible at showing Sally's internal struggle. She had a vibrant stage presence as well, and her voice was beautiful and strong. Though all of songs were wonderful, "Maybe This Time" and "Cabaret" were extra special, because they revealed a lot of emotion and development in her character--and, of course, Louis's execution was perfect.
Clifford Bradshaw was played by Britt Michael Gordon, and Gordon matched and contrasted Louis's Sally flawlessly. Clifford is an American writer visiting Berlin, who gets mixed up in the politics of the time, as well as a couple different affairs. Gordon portrayed his hesitation and personality fantastically, and he was also a great singer, as exemplified in the few songs his character sang.
The Kit Kat Girls (Hillary Ekwall, Ysabel Jasa, Alexis Fishman, Virginia Newsome, Haley Clay, and Julia Rifino) and Kit Kat Boys (Leeds Hill, Andrew Hubacher, Dillon Feldman, and Sean Royal) were all clearly very talented. They all did an amazing job at telling the very tense, quite dark, metaphorical story, which is somewhat hidden by a more risqué setting--the Kit Kat Klub--and various love affairs throughout the show. Ekwall, Fishman, Hill, and Hubacher were also all musicians for the show, in addition to their individual roles, and I was quite impressed with how seamlessly they transitioned between playing music for the show and singing and dancing in their ensemble numbers.
The rest of the cast members, consisting of Jason Parrish as Ernst Ludwig, Lori Wilner as Fräulein Schneider, Jackie Schram as Fräulein Kost, and Michael Marotta as Herr Schultz, were all quite wonderful in their respective roles. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Wilner's Fräulein Schneider and Marotta's Herr Schultz, as they tried to navigate romance despite religious conflict in society.
If you are looking for a wonderfully well-done, dark and layered storyline, with some very fun and slightly scandalous musical numbers, I highly recommend Florida Rep's CABARET. CABARET is a very popular, well-known musical for a reason, and Florida Rep's version of it is outstanding. Get your tickets to see this fantastic show before they are gone; this is one of only a couple musicals Florida Rep has brought to Southwest Florida this season, and I promise you do not want to miss it. After all... life is a CABARET!
CABARET is playing in the Historic Arcade Theatre at Florida Rep now through April 14. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7PM, Friday-Saturday at 8PM, with 2PM matinees on Wednesday, Sunday, and selected Saturdays. To buy tickets, you can visit www.floridarep.org, call Florida Rep at 239-332-4488, or stop by the box office at 2268 Bay Street, Fort Myers, FL, 33901.