BWW Review: CABARET at Harold Greenspon Auditorium
"...There was a city called Berlin in a country called Germany and it was the end of the world..."
The Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society has another hit on their hands with a perfectly marvelous production of CABARET. The show is both highly entertaining and brutally tragic; sadly fitting to the world we currently find ourselves living in.
Based on the play by John Van Druten and the stories of Christopher Isherwood, CABARET, has a Book by Joe Masteroff, Music by John Kander and Lyrics by Fred Ebb, CABARET opened on Broadway in 1966. The show was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won 8, including Best Musical. The highly regarded, Academy Award winning film version, directed by Bob Fosse and starring Liza Minelli, Joel Gray and Michael York was released in 1972.
Set in 1929-30 in Berlin, as the Nazis are rising into power, the show centers around English cabaret performer Sally Bowles and her relationship with American writer Cliff Bradshaw. The couple meet at Sally's workplace, the seedy Kit Kat Klub. Overseeing all of the action is the club's Emcee, who opens the show with "Wilkommen."
A sub plot features the landlady of the building where Sally resides, Fräulein Schneider and her doomed relationship with her elderly suitor Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit vendor.
Director Anisa Cameron has assembled an outstanding cast of incredibly talented and energetic actors.
Jeanne Motulsky portrays Sally with the perfect combination of sultry, flirty and fearful. Her powerful vocals shine, particularly in "Maybe This Time" and "Cabaret," though "Mein Herr" seemed just a touch too low for her and at times some of the lyrics were lost. Calder Levine was excellent as Clifford "Cliff" Bradshaw, the bisexual writer who falls in love with Sally. There was a lack of sexual chemistry, however, in their relationship, which I would have liked to see more fully developed.
Linda Babins and John Kovac were utterly charming as Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. Suffering with a mic issue in "So What" didn't stop Babins from delivering a knock out performance.
The standout performance, hands down, comes from Craig Dalley as the Emcee. Dalley has amazing stage presence and was equal parts terrifying and hilarious. He held the audience in the palm of his hand as he presided over nearly every scene.
Rounding out the stellar cast, are Edward Le Vasseur as Ernst Ludwig, a German, who by the end of Act One is sporting a Nazi armband, Maria Jimenez as Fraulein Kost, who belts out a haunting reprise of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me," along with Genevieve Pertugia, Marina Mendoza, Gabrielle Banville, Isabella Rachiele, Ari Sterlin, Kaylah Langburt, T.Y. Jung, Jonah Zoldan, Natasha Lilliman, Ryan Klingman, Shaun Nishmas, along with understudies, Rachel Merovitz, Megan Magisano and Nicole Arrage. A recording of a boy soprano was performed by Ryan Hill.
Anisa Cameron's direction is, as always, phenomenal. Masterfully blending both the original production and the darker 1998 revival production, she is wonderfully skilled at bringing out the best in her actors and telling each story in a compelling and cohesive way. The choice to end the show with the revival's final scene, as opposed to the original production's was deliberate and left the audience with chills. On why she felt strongly the CSLDS should produce CABARET at this moment, Cameron says, "CABARET" stands as a staggering, sumptuous, scintillating and stark lesson in the dangers of complacency, denial and willful ignorance in the face of unbridled nationalism and the rise of a fascist tide. In the political climate that we find ourselves facing today, I felt strongly compelled to produce this show."
Choreographer Alexia Gourd perfectly played up each performer's strengths. The Kit Kat Klub numbers were fun and each dancer sold every move. A special mention for "Two Ladies," performed by the Emcee and two Kit Kat Girls. It was just the right amount of vulgar and had the audience in stitches.
The lighting design by Fraulein Schneider herself, Linda Babins was wonderfully dark and dingy in the Kit Kat Klub scenes.
The set designed by Sabrina Miller was perfect for the space. It was versatile and easily shifted between scenes.
The enthusiastic band lead by Benjamin Kwong, who also played keyboard, includes Noah Century on Reeds, Frederic Bourgeault on Turmpet, Luke Gossage-Bleho on Trombone, Caleb Smith on Double Bass and Elijah Baker on Drums.
It's always a treat to discover each production produced by the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society. Though technically considered community theatre, the productions are top notch and rival many independent and professional companies.
CABARET runs through June 16, 2019 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium, 5801 Cavendish Blvd., in Montreal. Tickets are available online at CSLDramaticSociety.com.