Monthly Archive for: ‘June, 2017’

Raunchiness blunts punch of ‘Cabaret’

New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company has brought its acclaimed production of  “Cabaret” to Broadway San Jose.

Although the show by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb premiered in 1966, it has become a musical theater staple. Several productions have been seen locally, most recently at Foster City’s Hillbarn Theatre.

On reflection, it seems that Hillbarn’s production, which stressed the tawdry side of Berlin during the rise of the Nazis in 1929 and 1930, was partly inspired by Roundabout’s. However, it also stressed the Nazi threat, which Roundabout downplays.

Directed by BT McNicholl based on the work of Rob Marshall and Sam Mendes, this version is blatantly raunchy and less ominous. Consequently, it loses punch.

Another reason for its diminished power might be that the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts is so cavernous. The show works better in smaller venues.

The plot concerns an American writer, Clifford Bradshaw (Benjamin Eakeley), who goes to Berlin. He meets an Englishwoman, Sally Bowles (Leigh Ann Larkin), who’s the star attraction at the anything-goes Kit Kat Klub.

Uninvited, she moves in with him at a boarding house run by Fraulein Schneider (Mary Gordon Murray). Even though he’s gay, he falls in love with Sally.

The show’s dominant presence is played by the dynamic Jon Peterson as the Emcee. His leering double-entendres make this production R-rated.

Other boarding house renters are Fraulein Kost (Alison Ewing), a hooker; and Herr Schultz (Scott Robertson), a Jewish widower who owns a fruit store and courts Fraulein Schneider.

The principals are all noteworthy except for Larkin as Sally. She lacks the vulnerability that makes Sally more complex rather than simply flippant.

Music director Robert Cookman conducts the onstage orchestra, which is often augmented by cast members.

The music offsets this production’s drawbacks. It’s hard to resist songs like “Willkommen,” “Mein Herr,” “Money,” the title song and others, all performed well.

The show runs about two and a half hours with one intermission.

Its short run ends June 11 at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 S. Almaden Blvd. For tickets and information, call (800) 982-2787 or visit