Cabaret

Wed 8th – Sat 11th February 2012

reviews

Dewei Jia

at 23:46 on 8th Feb 2012

0agrees

1disagrees

Surrounded by hot actresses, with shimmering eye shadows effectively illuminated the dark theater, you are in a real cabaret tonight. If that is the sense 'Cabaret' intends to evoke, it indeed does a good job to do it.

The story is a bitter romance in an era of political turmoil. Romances in the house are everywhere. Affairs between American writer Cliff (Jack Graham) and his cabaret lady lover Sally (Alice Pearse), old fashioned house owner Fraulein Schneider (Olivia Barber) and her lover Jewish fruit seller Herr Schultz (Liam Steward-George) are big contrasts. Under the Nazi governance, Schneider declined the proposal of Schultz and chose to stay single with a physically safe and uneventful life. She lost the passion she may have had in a different political environment. Cliff and Sally started from a cabaret encounter and ended in another cabaret dance. However beautiful the music may be, it cannot stop a heartbroken lover from mourning. Similarly, they may also have a fruitful love with peace and joy given politic peacefulness.

Cabaret is a place to hide away the sentiment. No, sentiment can only be released, but it is resolved in the dancing and broken down. Atoms of love are not tangible anymore. They are everywhere in the air; they are as strong as air. Emcee (Mark Dlugash) witnesses the development of love and translates it into cabaret dance. This figure is a tricky part of the musical. However, Mark interpreted his flamboyant role with his amusing facial expression and extravagant body language.

In comparison, the main characters do not entertain their audience equally. Cliff seems to be a bit too shy to conquer a cabaret girl. Schneider is overshadowed by her Jewish lover. The ending of the musical is unexpected in many ways. Nazi theme is a bit abrupt because it leads to a big conflict only toward the end of the play.

Chorus girls are unexpected arousal. Their alluring dancing overwhelmingly synchronized with Sally’s innocent love. She cannot go to America with Cliff as if she is toward her home. Berlin and cabaret is her home. It is unrealistic. Life is a cabaret, but how about after the show? Do you want to go back home or grab a drink with friends? There is perhaps no such possibility because the setting of the political era. Lovers are innocent. There loves have to be sacrificed. Just let them stay in the cabaret. So do the audience.

agree
disagree

Sara Pridgeon

at 12:40 on 9th Feb 2012

2agrees

0disagrees

Ramin Sabi’s production of Cabaret makes for a fun evening, but the show is not without its problems. The chorus should be commended for their energy – the cabaret girls had the necessary attitude and flair to strut provocatively around the stage, clad in heels, corsets and lace. The dance numbers worked well, and though they could have used polishing, were convincing for a seedy Berlin nightclub. Their numbers, lead by the Emcee (Mark Dlugash), were some of the most enjoyable of the show, particularly “Two Ladies”. Scenes focusing on Sally (Alice Pearse) and Cliff (Jack Graham) were not as believable. There was a lack of chemistry between the pair; I felt as if they were more going through the motions and following the script than actually working with an emotional connection. Their more volatile moments, which should have been powerful – fighting about money, Sally’s desire to return to The Kit Kat Club – were more confusing than emotionally charged.

I particularly enjoyed Liam Steward-George as Herr Schultz. He was one of the strongest actors in the cast, and he was also extremely likeable; his scenes with Fraulein Schneider (Olivia Barber) were noteworthy. Sam Ereira did well in the role of Ernst; his charm made his character’s involvement with the Nazi party all the more powerful. One of the best moments of the show was “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”. Though it was short, Jack Sain’s solo at the beginning of the number was without a doubt a true highlight. His voice was beautiful, haunting, and extremely memorable. Alice Pearse was well cast as Sally. Her voice was powerful and she was confident with the musical numbers; she was at her best when singing. Her rendition of “Cabaret” was fantastic, emotionally powerful and very well sung – in my mind, this scene, and Sain’s solo, made up for any of the show’s other deficiencies.

The set, unfortunately, detracted from the show. Set changes were frequent and awkward, and at times needed more rehearsal to make them smoother – by Saturday, hopefully this will be taken care of. The wall and doors of the boarding house were rather unstable, and the piece swayed back and forth whenever a door was opened or shut (which, sometimes, was done with difficulty). The ladder on the side of the stage was a good idea in theory – but as it was placed amidst the audience tables in the cabaret, it was hard for everyone to see. I missed most of these entrances and exits – including Sally’s appearance – because of where I was seated. Having audience members sat around tables as if part of the cabaret (wine included) was a good idea, but proved difficult to pull off in the O’Reilly as the tables were extremely cramped and it was difficult to take our seats, and though we were comfortable during the show, sightlines were an issue.

In general, the choreography and the musical numbers were good, though there was a tendency for weaker notes as singers went higher in their registers. Luckily, this was not as problematic as it could have been – most actors were charismatic enough to make up for this. Even when the singing was strong, sound was an issue. Despite having microphones, it was still hard to hear characters over the band, including the strongest singers. Fixing this would be a small but important improvement for the rest of the run.

Cabaret is an ambitious show to undertake, be it on the student stage or on Broadway. This show needed more time to polish up the set, but mostly to build up chemistry and relationships between characters. All in all, though, it was an enjoyable performance – fans of the musical will enjoy some fantastic moments, and this would be a good introduction for those who don’t know the show. By the end of the run, the kinks of opening night should be resolved – and if not, it’s only a cabaret.

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