Review: Drury Lane Oakbrook’s “Cabaret”

Drury Lane’s “Cabaret” needs some dirt
underneath it’s green fingernails

cabaret03

Drury Lane Oakbrook (map) presents:

Cabaret
By Joe Masteroff (book), Fred Ebb (lyrics) and John Kander (music)
directed by Jim Corti
thru October 11th (buy tickets)

Reviewed by Oliver Sava

cabaret01Drury LaneOakbrook’s production of Cabaret is pretty, but afraid to get dirty. Jim Corti’s choreography  is tight and the singing is more than serviceable, but it lacks the pulse and frantic energy that have made this show a postwar classic. The desperation of post-World War I/pre-Nazi Germany is never truly captured, and the end result doesn’t quite have the political punch that the book and music deserve.

When American novelist Clifford Bradshaw (Jim Weitzer) arrives in Berlin, he and the audience are greeted by the over-the-top theatrics of the post-World War I cabaret, but director/choreographer Sam Corti‘s vision of the Kit Kat Club feels tame. Yes, there is plenty of sex and booze flowing, but the atmosphere feels more Cole Porter than Kander and Ebb. The nature of the cabaret, an underground pleasure den where German citizens could escape the hardships of reality, seems to be lost as grit is replaced with glitter. The Master of Ceremonies (Patrick Andrews), takes the stage with a boyish delight, but Andrews struggles to find the darkness in the character that symbolizes the Nazi party’s rise as a legitimate political force.

cabaret02 Zarah Mahler has a similar struggle with the darker thematic elements of the show in her portrayal of Sally Bowles, the English songstress that can’t balance her love for Clifford with the frivolity of the cabaret at the same time. The chemistry between Weitzer and Mahler never quite ignites, making the relationship between the two seem forced and putting even more pressure on Mahler to show Sally’s desperate need for affection, a feat that is finally accomplished in her rendition of the musical’s title number.

cabaret02 Unlike the 1972 film, the stage version of Cabaret devotes much more time to the ascent of the Nazi party and the consequences it has on ordinary Berlin citizens. In a heartbreaking subplot involving Clifford’s landlady Fraulein Schneider (Rebecca Finnegan) and her Jewish beau Herr Schultz (David Lively), the cruel and pervasive nature of Nazism provides the motion that the production needs. When Fraulein Kost (Christine Sherrill), Schneider’s bitter prostitute tenant, leads the denizens of the cabaret in a rousing version of “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” at the couple’s engagement party, the tension is nerve-rattling. The scene shows a glimmer of the Cabaret that could have been, a terrifyingly exciting examination on the appeal of true evil in a desperate world.

Rating:  ««½

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CAST
Patrick Andrews
Gary Carlson
Molly Curry
Brandon Dahlquist
Jarret Ditch
Stephane Duret
Rebecca Finnegan
Michael Glazer
Kent Haina
Jennifer Knox
Rob Lindley
David Liveely
Zarah Mahler
Amber Mak
Nicole Pellegrino
Buddy Reeder
Summer Ricj
Christine Sherrill
Holly Stauder
Joey Stone
Richard Strimer
Aamanda Tanguay
Erin Thompson
Jim Weitzer
Melissa Zaremba
BOOK
Joe Masteroff

MUSIC

John Kander

LYRICS

Fred Ebb

DIRECTOR & CHOREGRAPHER

Jim Corti

MUSIC DIRECTION

Doug PeckLIGHTING
Jesse KlugSOUND
Cecil Averett

SCENIC DESIGN

Brian Sidney Bembridge

COSTUME DESIGN

Tatjana Radisic

FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHER

Jarret Dditch

STAGE MANAGER

Thomas Joyce

7 Responses

  1. Please oliver, tell JIM (because that is his name. not “Sam”.) Corti how post-world war I/pre-nazi Germany REALLY was – this time they’ll get it right.

  2. Me thinks you like the ’90s version of Cabaret…except that it was stylized (still an amazing production) and was not how ’30s Berlin was. I think this theatre goer and you saw two different productions here, cause I was in tears throughout the show. And the emcee is not meant to represent the Nazi’s either, just comment on the plot.

  3. […] Cabaret Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre » our review here […]

  4. We were at the 8:30 p.m. performance tonight (10/3). It was so uncomfortable and hot that my husband and I left at intermission. The air was stale and did not move. Everybody was fanning themselves with their programs.

    The play was probably good, but the place was just too hot!

    Stop skimping on the air conditioning!

  5. […] 6. Cabaret by Kander and Ebb – Drury Lane Oakbrook (our review) […]

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