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a Musical
by book - Joe Masteroff, songs - Kander & Ebb

COMPANY : Live Arts Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Gwinnett Ballet Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4755

SHOWING : July 17, 2015 - July 26, 2015



Cliff Bradshaw, an American author working on a novel in Berlin, encounters Sally Bowles at the seedy Kit Kat Klub where she is a singer. When she is fired by the club’s owner, also her jealous boyfriend, she moves in with Cliff and the two fall in love. As the Nazis begin taking control of the German government, the atmosphere of the Kit Kat Klub and the lives of Cliff and Sally begin to change dramatically.

Contains some adult content. Parents should exercise caution.

Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Featuring live music by Zephyr Instrumental.

Director Michael Parker
Costume Design Jordan Hermitt
Costume Design Andrea Hermitt
Costume Design Andrea Hermitt
Victor Ian Chamberland
Hans Jordan DeMoss
Ernst Ludwig Spencer Estes
Cliff Bradshaw Paul Franklin
Texas Kendal Franklin
Helga Cyndi Hepworth
Sally Bowles Emi Mastey
The Emcee Eduardo Jose Paco Mateo
Lulu Ilene Miller
Fritzi/Kost Heather Murray
Bobby/Dance Captain D Norris
Rosie Becca Parker
Herman Derrick Roney
Herr Schultz Frank Scozzari
Fraulein Schneider Marty Snowden
Frenchy Emily Yaksh
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


by playgoer
Monday, July 27, 2015
"Cabaret" started out as a Broadway show with seedy elements. Once the movie came along, the story darkened. Then, when the first Alan Cumming revival opened, the seedy elements predominated. Live Arts’ production lies firmly in Alan Cumming territory.

The auditorium in which the show is performed is not an optimal performance space; it’s basically a large room with a serviceable set installed at one end and four-person cabaret tables scattered around to make up the audience area. The orchestra takes up one side; the other side has black curtains to allow the cast to escape into the outside hallway, from which many entrances are made. It’s a somewhat immersive production, with dancing often occurring on the audience floor.

The choreography, by Amber Franek, is one of the highlights of the show. It’s in a raw, edgy style, with a lot of slumping and stomping and inappropriate groping. Many of the cast are fine dancers (particularly the men), and the choreography sparks the proceedings with excitement. Orchestral accompaniment, provided by the Zephyr Instrumental ensemble, as conducted by music director Kerry Fetter, is thoroughly professional and brass-heavy, with none of the blats and bleats often heard when brass-playing amateurs accompany productions. Choreography and accompaniment are at a truly professional level. Costumes, coordinated by Jordan Hermitt, are also at a pretty high level of accomplishment (although many body parts are left naked in this production; does that count as part of costuming?).

Unfortunately, other technical aspects of the production are lacking. I saw only four lighting elements, which did a surprisingly good job of illuminating the stage proper, but couldn’t do much for the walkway above it. On the other hand, video projections of Nazi-era film clips played in that upper area, and were very effective at the end of the show, and provided visual interest before the show and during intermission.

Where the show is really lacking, though, is in sound balance. The orchestra is beside the audience and loud, and the actors are not individually miked. When a singer is in his/her optimal range and is belting, it’s not much of a problem. Big problems occur, however, when dialogue is attempted with underscoring or when portions of a song are outside of a singer’s optimal range. This is particularly the case with Emi Mastey as Sally Bowles, and particularly in the title number. The range of the role is lower than Ms. Mastey’s natural voice, and the solution for the song "Cabaret" has been to have her croak it out as an emotional breakdown. It’s arguably effective from a dramatic standpoint, but a big miss from a vocal standpoint.

Eduardo Paco, as the Emcee, has the fewest problems of the major performers in projecting above the orchestra. He gives a good performance, but it’s pretty standard-issue Alan Cumming. He has the strut of a drag queen, but no spark of delight in his eyes. He confronts us with "Willkommen" rather than inviting us in. The decadence is there, but not the allure of the decadent. Most of the ensemble perform with deadpan expressions, so a Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt is at the forefront, giving a chilly feeling to the proceedings.

There are generally good performances in the speaking roles. Marty Snowden and Frank Scozzari pair nicely as Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. Paul Franklin shows inner conflict well as Cliff Bradshaw, although he has little chemistry with Ms. Mastey. Spencer Estes is highly effective as Ernst, and Heather Murray is absolutely fabulous as Fraulein Kost, impressing more singing in German than anyone else does singing in English.

There are a lot of things to like in this production of "Cabaret." Director Michael Parker has put together a fine approximation of the recent Broadway revivals of this show, but there isn’t enough of a stamp of originality to make this production stand above the pack. With more technical resources at hand (particularly in the sound department), this would be a much better production.


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