Friday, May 9, 2014

Broadway Theater Review: Cabaret with Alan Cumming

Cabaret
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred ebb
Book by Joe Masteroff
Co-direction and Choreography by Rob Marshall
Directed by Sam Mendes
Roundabout Theatre Company
Studio 54

What's It All About?
The 2014 revival of the 1998 revival of the 1987 revival of the 1966 Broadway musical about seedy cabaret life in 1930s Berlin, on the brink of Hitler's rise to power. Alan Cumming, who won the Tony for his performance as the Emcee (a sort of narrator for the show) in the last revival returns to anchor this one, again at studio 54, which is transformed into the Kit Kat Klub, run by Max (Benjamin Eakeley) with cabaret style seating and a German-themed snack and beverage menu for the audience (the house opens an hour early).

Playing cabaret singer Sally Bowles is Michelle Williams (whom film buffs will know from "My Week with Marilyn." Brokeback Mountain," "Oz the Great and Powerful," and "Shutter Island" among others), making her Broadway debut. She becomes the roommate, then lover of repressed homosexual Clifford Bradshaw (Bill Heck), who had hoped to write the great American novel, but who ends up teaching English to Ernst Ludwig (Aaron Krohn) and his friends to make ends meet and to pay the rent on his room in the boarding house run by Fraulein Schneider (an excellent Linda Emond).

Schneider has a secret affair with local grocer, Herr Schultz (a terrific Danny Burstein), much to the delight of boarder Frauelein Kost (Gayle Rankin), who uses the information to keep the landlord from restricting her activities with a long line of sailors who visit her in her room. Sally also keeps company with many men and when she finds out she is pregnant, she isn't sure Cliff is the father and contemplates an abortion -- her solution to the problem many times before, apparently. Cliff thinks the baby will give them some focus in their lives and wants her to come back to America with him, but Max might have a more tempting offer...

Cliff starts to becomes uncomfortable with Ernst's involvement in the Nazi party and things become very awkward when the young German threatens Schneider with unpleasant consequences if she goes through with her plans to marry Herr Schultz -- a Jew.

What Are the Highlights?

  • Any Kander-Ebb score is worth hearing live on stage any time you can. The 20-person band is located on a second level of the set (designed by Robert Brill) and is under the direction of Patrick Vaccariello, who also does the vocal arrangements). Great to hear some classic songs like "Willkommen," "Maybe This Time," "Money," "What Would You Do," "Tomorrow Belongs to Me," and the title song.
  • Great to see Cumming in  his signature role. He really made this his own last time and it's a wonderful opportunity to see a piece of theater history.
  • The cabaret set up really is fun and provides a nice change of pace to the typical theater-going experience.
What Are the Lowlights?
  • Many think Williams was robbed when her name wasn't announced for a Tony award nomination, but she seemed out of place in the role -- almost like everything was dwarfing her and she just wasn't up to filling shoes that had been filled by the likes of Natasha Richardson and Liza Minelli (in the film). Sometimes she wasn't quite on a note and she has a whole lot vibrato going on up there.
  • The feel of the show is sleazy (it's supposed to be, it just isn't a pleasant feeling) from the vulgar costume (by William Ivey Long) for the Emcee to the scanty numbers worn by the show girls. It's a show right at home at Studio 54, which was the capital of decadence and seediness back in the disco club era in the '70s.
  • My Bavarian pretzel looked suspiciously like one you could purchase from a street vendor for a few dollars less...
More information:
Cabaret runs through Jan. 4, 2015 at Studio 54, 254 West 54th St., NYC. http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/
Runtime: two hours, 30 minutes with an intermission

Christians might also like to know:
-- Cross dressing
-- Scantily =-clad actors
-- Nudity
-- Sexual dialogue
-- Sexually suggestive moves
-- Abortion
--Drug usage
-- Language
-- Homosexual activity
-- Sexual activity

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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