Review: Ovation Productions' CABARET at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe

Running through October 8th, Ovation’s Cabaret is an outstanding production in every possible way.

By: Oct. 01, 2023
Review: Ovation Productions' CABARET at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe to attend Ovation Productions’ Cabaret, directed by Lauren Boyd. Ovation Productions is a professional Ottawa-based theatre company that features performers from across the country, but its last production was back in 2018’s with The Rocky Horror Show. I need not have worried. Spoiler alert: Ovation’s Cabaret is an outstanding production in every possible way.

Set in 1930s Berlin at the dawn of Naziism in Germany, a group of lively bohemians gather at the Kit Kat Klub. Not giving a damn about politics, this rag tag bunch just want to have a good time and enjoy life to the fullest. As a result, they are indifferent to the antisemitism taking root in the country, mistakenly thinking that they will be unaffected by what is to come.

The opening number, “Willkommen”, set the tone for the night. Led by a hugely charismatic Mitch Wood as the Emcee, what followed was a spectacle that left the audience dazzled as each of the Kit Kat Players was introduced one by one.

Sally Bowles (Kirstyn Russelle) is a cabaret singer, who is also known to be free spirited and promiscuous. When Sally finds herself suddenly in need of new lodgings, she bunks in with Clifford Bradshaw (Kaden Forsberg), an American writer who has recently arrived in the city. The relationship between Sally and Clifford grows even more complicated when they face an unexpected challenge. Cabaret also has a subplot involving Clifford’s spinster landlady, Fraulein Schneider’s (Cara Pantalone) blossoming relationship with a fruit vendor, Herr Schultz (Gab Desmond), a German Jew.

Review: Ovation Productions' CABARET at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
Kirstyn Russelle in Ovation Productions' Cabaret.
​​Photo by Curtis Perry.

Boasting an all-Canadian cast, Ovation’s Cabaret leaves no doubt that Canadians can play with the best of them. Cast performances were five-star, from Wood to Forsberg, Pantalone, Desmond, and Russelle, as well as Arinea Hermans as Fraulein Kost and Eric Lehmann as Ernst Ludwig. Russelle’s energy as the inimitable Bowles was incredible, performing number after number with exuberence. The supporting Kit Kat Players were equally wonderful, showing their athleticism in beautifully choreographed dance numbers. Vocal performances by the entire company were excellent and would rival a Broadway cast performance. I quite honestly cannot find fault with any aspect of this production.

Right before intermission, the tone of the show changed on the turn of a dime (or the removal of a jacket, as the case may be). This was a prime example of how every element of a production can work together to create an incredible moment on stage; the timing, lights, music, and stage direction were just perfect. I look forward to seeing what Ovation Productions has in store for Ottawa next and hope the wait between shows won’t be as long this time around.

Review: Ovation Productions' CABARET at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe
The cast of Ovation Productions' Cabaret.
Photo by Curtis Perry.

Cabaret is only running through October 8th in the Les Lye Studio Theatre at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe. Since seating is limited because of the more intimate venue, don’t wait too long to buy tickets and avoid disappointment. As a Canadian Actors Equity production, Cabaret is one of Ottawa’s pricier shows, with tickets ranging from $40 to $99, but using promo code CABARETOPEN will get you 25% off adult and senior tickets. I promise that this show is worth every penny.

 

 




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