BWW Reviews: Come to the Seductive and Stirring CABARET in Richmond

BWW Reviews: Come to the Seductive and Stirring CABARET in Richmond
Nicole Foret Oberleitner. Photo Credit: John MacLellan

Richmond Triangle Players closes its season with the Sam Mendes revival of Kander and Ebb's CABARET, which has returned to Broadway for a limited engagement at Studio 54. While it would be a real treat to see Alan Cumming, Michelle Williams and company, the Triangle Players' production stands well on its own.

Penny Ayn Maas who spent five years in the Broadway cast, performing on stage with Emcees such as Michael C. Hall, Neil Patrick Harris and Cumming himself, directs and choreographs the sensuous and energetic production with crystal clear vision. Her choreography in numbers like "Don't Tell Mama" is an enthralling treat. Kim Fox, winner of the 2013 Richmond Theatre Critics Circle's Artsie Award for best musical direction, brings 13 distinct voices together for one harmonious blend in rousing numbers such as the opening, "Wilkommen." Frank Foster's scenic design highlights the Kit Kat Klub band and is simple but very effective, and Michael Jarett's lighting design is versatile, using spotlights and mood-setting tones.

As the people in Berlin give in to licentious pleasures, the Nazi's power is escalating, and in this much darker interpretation of Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories, this CABARET's denouement isn't so subtle.

Chris Hester, Lesie Pumphrey, Bethany Bagley, Lanaya van Dreisen, Brianne Chin, Andrew Etheredge, Dan Cimo, Mahlon Roufi, Nicole Foret Oberleitner, Stevie Rice, Evan Nasteff, Jeanie Rule, and Doug Schneider are all fantastic in their various roles and deserve recognition for their work.

Hester has the difficult and emotionally draining job of filling in the Emcee's boots. Seductive and slinky, he does a commendable job, though he doesn't fully commit to the menacing quality of the role. His charming stage presence is undeniable in the opening number and he bares his soul in the dark and telling "I Don't Care Much."

Leading the Kit Kat Klub girls in tantalizing numbers like "Don't Tell Mama," Obertleitner is perfectly cast as the innocent seductress Sally Bowles. Her voice has a soft and sultry quality that calls to mind Nicole Kidman's performance in Moulin Rouge. Her performances of "Maybe this Time" and the title song are vulnerable and chilling to the bone.

But the standout performances belong to Rule and Schneider as Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, the middle-aged lovers who act and sing with heart and conviction. The pair share several moments together, but really shine in the humerous "It Couldn't Please Me More." And Rule has a show-stopping moment in her performance of the haunting "What Would You Do?"

With exceptional direction, choreography and a terrific cast, this CABARET runs through July 5 at Richmond Triangle Players.

Photo Credit: Nicole Foret Oberleitner as Sally Bowles in the legendary Broadway musical CABARET, now playing through July 5 at Richmond Triangle Players, 1300 Altamont Ave, Richmond VA. For tickets, visit RTP's web site at or call 804-346-8113. Photo by John MacLellan.

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