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a Musical
by Kander & Ebb

COMPANY : Next Stage Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Next Stage Theatre's Alley Stage
ID# 4394

SHOWING : December 14, 2012 - December 31, 2012



Surely there's no more drastic alternative to fuzzy-wuzzy Christmas cheer than the dark, sexy, dangerous world of Cabaret! Kander and Ebb's landmark musical trains a spotlight on the Kit Kat Club, a seedy burlesque theater in Berlin, Germany. A young American writer, Clifford Bradshaw, meets a flighty chanteuse, Sally Bowles, at the Kit Kat Club and sets off a chain of events that will change their lives forever. What good is sitting alone in your room -- or with your family around the Christmas tree -- when you can come hear the music play at Cabaret!

Director Paul Edward Gourdeau
Director Rob Hardie
Costume Designer Fran Beaudry
Scenic Designer Christopher Shane Dills
Lulu Selena Anduze Anyana
Fraulein Schneider Kirsten Benson
Rosie Chandler Clark
Ernst Ludwig Max Flick
Victor Patrick Hill
Clifford Bradshaw Chris Ikner
Fritzie Katie O'Neill
Sally Bowles Sarah Peavy
Fraulein Kost/Helga Karen Rooker
Bobby Daniel Clay Sasser
Herr Schultz Michael Shikany
Emcee Jordan Stovall
Texas Kim Wacker
Frenchie Janie Young
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What Good Is Sitting Alone?
by playgoer
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Next Stage Theater Company has been packing audiences into its tight Alley Stage quarters in Marietta for "Cabaret." The sell-out audiences have been highly appreciative, and with good reason. This is a smoothly flowing production, blessed with good singing, good dancing, and good acting.

Directors Rob Roy Hardie and Paul Gourdeau have chosen to use the Emcee and the Kit Kat Klub girls to set props, often handing them directly to a cast member starting a scene, then lingering in a recumbant pose as the scene plays out. This lets the action move along and also adds to the seedy, somewhat oppressive atmosphere.

The set design by Christopher S. Dills uses shipping pallets as a background, giving a rustic feel that is emphasized by barn door hardware center stage. The set doesn't at all give a feeling of 1930's Berlin, but it works well enough. The barn-hung doors are used primarily for cabaret scenes, which works oddly in the boarding house scenes, where entrances are made around the upstage right corner of the stage, past a bed and up a couple of steps, when the set-up of the stage would make the center doors seem a more logical entrance.

Chuck Tedder's lighting design works well enough, with spotlights relieving the gloom and focusing action. Frances Beaudry's costumes do the best job of setting the time period of the show, while emphasizing the seediness of the Kit Kat Klub. Makeup is terrific, with believable bruises on a number of cast members. The head microphones, however, break the illusion of reality, and their battery packs break the line of some costumes. I question the need for microphones in the tiny space, although sound design by Jon Liles and Rob Roy Hardie keeps vocals and band in balance.

The music direction of Annie Cook and Ali Ramsaier is excellent, showing off all cast members to their ultimate potential. The voices of romantic leads Chris Ikner and Sarah Peavy are especially pleasing. These two are also the acting standouts in the show. Their scenes together are the highlights of the show.

Kristen Benson, as Fraulein Schneider, is also very strong in the show. Her German accent is flawless, and her voice is powerful. She is let down, however, by the directors and choreographer (Chandler Clark). Her two musical numbers are addressed to Cliff Bradshaw, but are staged so that she ignores him while she sings, a spotlight and choreographed moves proclaiming "this is a musical number." The character she portrays is singularly humorless in this production, which makes her attraction to Herr Schultz (Michael Shikany) come somewhat out of the blue.

The Emcee, portrayed by Jordan Stovall, appears to be attempting to channel Alan Cumming, and not succeeding particularly well. He's not old enough or charismatic enough to fully inhabit the role, but he does a creditable job. His German is also good (which cannot be said for Max Flick's as Ernst Ludwig).

The Kit Kat Klub girls feature Karen Rooker as Helga Kost (or perhaps as two separate characters, although there's no need to make a distinction between them). They're all good, all seedy, and all scantily clad. The two men among them (Clay Sasser and Patrick Hill) don't physically resemble one another, although the script suggests they should, but they do fine work. Mr. Sasser is particularly effective in his dance scenes, although his feminine makeup doesn't work well when he dons a Nazi armband as another character.

When Sarah Peavy makes her initial entrance, she appears to be an Amazon in comparison to the Kit Kat Klub girls. Her tall stature works well against Chris Ikner, but seems jarringly out of scale in comparison to the other performers. But then again, Sally Bowles is a bit bigger than life, and Ms. Peavy fits that description in her stature, personality, and singing. She is truly magnetic in this role, although I would have preferred her consciously giving in to the good-times-and-forget-everything-else message of the title number.

"Cabaret" is a good production of the show, but it tries a little too hard to put a director's stamp on it rather than letting the show speak for itself. If it had a uniformly excellent cast, it might work on a higher level. As it is, the professional and amateur aspects of the production seem to be at war with one another. To make the directors' vision come to full life, all mediocre elements of the show would need to be expunged. This is far above the usual level of community theatre, but it doesn't reach into the stratosphere. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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