‘Cabaret’ at the Cinnabar Theatre
‘Cabaret’ at the Cinnabar
By Gary Gonser, SFBATCC
September 17, 2018
Music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff
Directed by Elly Lichenstein
Music directed by Mary Chun
Petaluma, CA 94952
Run: August 31 – September 23, 2018
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Living in Germany at the end of the Weimar Republic in 1931 was a exhilarating time. New freedoms after the Great Depression brought hope and not a little social exploration in Berlin. This production of “Cabaret” takes the Berliner nightclub microcosm seriously, and presents the freedoms and dangers that Germans experienced at that time.
The “Kit Kat Klub” comes alive with the songs we all love (“WillKomen,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” “Mein Herr,” “Cabaret”) and the dances we associate with the show. The theatre was arranged in “cabaret” seating, with tables for this show. The stage, designed by Wayne Hovey, is set in a basement room with crumbling walls and patched up lights, alas with no tables on the main stage. The band is upstage, with the musicians in costume.
The Emcee, played by Michael McGurk, is onstage most of the time, peeking from behind the curtain or “hiding” on the columns when not in the “spotlight.” McGurk’s pervasive attention to details grabs our attention as the show continues. Everyone is a bit more raunchy than expected in our show, which adds distinct color and contrast to the Petaluma we left at the door.
Alia Beeton is perfect as the English-raised character Sally Bowles, with a consistently upper-class British accent and cold demeanor. There is no love lost between Bowles and Clifford Bradshaw, played by Lucas Brandt, when they jump into bed to save on the rent. Cliff is shown to be as decadent as Sally is, so the pairing works.
Fraeulein Schneider, played by Mary Gannon Graham, makes the perfect landlady protecting income and morals in her rooming house, in that order. Graham sees her world realistically relative to her endlessly romantic, fruit-seller suitor, Herr Schultz, played by Michael van Why. Their relationship provides a rich grounding contrast to the Kit Kat Club shenanigans.
Director Elly Lichenstein presents a clear picture of the time with dances to show off the ensemble by choreographer Michella Snider. The band, directed by Mary Chun, follows the cast with style and sound effects of accordion and gunshots.
Mark Robinson plays Ernst Ludwig, a smuggler and salesman through and through. Robinson never breaks his smooth facade while drawing different sections of the cast into his machinations and political underbelly. Beware the salesman who deals with lies, money and politics.
The ensemble dances and grinds their way into our world with a passion. Each costume and character is different, created by costumer Jolie O’Dell and make-up artist Erik Batz, to attract everyone in one way or another. All dancers play with the audience as we flow around the nuances of 1931 Berlin. Zum Wohl!
“Cabaret” runs through September 23, 2018, at the Cinnabar Theatre at 3333 Petaluma Blvd N. Petaluma, CA 94952. Tickets are $25 – $40, available online or at the door. For more information, go to http://www.cinnabartheater.org/.