A Wild Time at CabaretBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jul 24th, 2006 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of Wildwood Summer Theatre’s production of Cabaret [MP3 9:25 2.7MB].
Laura: Last night we saw the opening night performance of Wildwood Summer Theatre‘s production of Cabaret in Bethesda, Maryland.
Mike: Cabaret is set in Berlin in 1930. The main story revolves around an American writer who is having trouble writing so he is traveling around Europe. He decides to move to Berlin so he can write his novel. He meets up with a night club singer, Sally Bowles, who is a singer at the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent night club in Berlin. We get to see how she sees the world and we also get to see how the people of the club see the world.
Laura: This was a well performed show. I came away feeling rather unsettled. I guess because you had what was going on inside the Kit Kat Klub. The immorality that was going on there and how that paralleled what was going on outside the Kit Kat Klub.
Mike: This was a really well performed show. The singing was good. The acting was good. I did come away feeling rather disturbed. Mainly because I know what’s going to happen in the next fifteen years after the end of this show. World War II, Europe plunged into darkness, millions of people murdered, all these people thinking life is ok, it doesn’t matter what goes on in the world. I just do what I want to do. It was disturbing. Definitely a thinking show.
Laura: The main character was Cliff Bradshaw. He was the American writer who came to Berlin to write the great novel. He was played by Greg Magee. I liked his performance. He had a nice singing voice in the few numbers where he sang. I liked the makeup job they did on him. In a scene towards the end he got into a fight and got rather roughed up. In the next scene he came out and it did look like he had run into a wall. They did a really good job with that detail. I felt like he was confused. He wasn’t quite sure, not only about his sexuality, but about his place in life, his role in Berlin, and beginning to understand what was going on around him.
Mike: The night club in Berlin was called the Kit Kat Klub. It was very decadent. There was a lot of drug usage and there was a lot of open sexuality from both the men and the women. The opening number was called “Welcome,” in German, Willkommen. The Emcee introduced the Kit Kat Girls to us. They were very scantilly clad and very suggestive and open in their sexuality.
Later there’s a song,”Don’t Tell Mama” that introduces Sally Bowles to us. Sally was played by Katie McGuire. If anything, I felt like Katie’s character as Sally should have been more open. Instead she was very nicely dressed, but she wasn’t very suggestive in her songs. The lyrics of the song were suggestive, but her part really wasn’t. A little bit later she was very manipulative and throughout the show she was very simple minded, She didn’t want to know anything about the outer world. I really didn’t like her character too much. Yes, I wanted to slap her up side the head. Cliff kind of did the same thing when he got frustrated. She was easily able to manipulate him. I did like the acting and the singing Katie did as Sally. Just some of the emotions didn’t come out quite right and some of the costuming I disagreed with.
Laura: The landlady who rented a room to Cliff and Sally was Fraulein Schneider, played by Sherry Berg. I liked her very much. She gave a very powerful performance. She showed a lot of emotions. At one point she got involved with a gentleman and they consented to get married. But later she realized that with everything happening in Berlin and the Nazi’s coming that she couldn’t continue the relationship. That scene was very strong. She had a very powerful voice, too. I liked her performance.
Mike: The role of the Emcee at the Kit Kat Klub was played by Ben Lurye. He had a difficult role. He had to keep the show moving along. He started as the narrator of the show. He would appear in a few of the scenes as characters. Then he would either make comments or he would sing in an undertone for the scene. He also danced a few times. He had to be very free with himself. So we did get to see a lot about the Emcee. His decadence and his relaxed nature about how life works really played into the show quite well.
Laura: I really liked the set. It was very well done, very creative. It was one set, but it had three sides. When the show first opened you were at the Kit Kat Klub. Then the set turned and you were in the room of the boardinghouse where Sally and Cliff lived for a time. You turned it again you were in a store front. It was really well done. They were very smooth transitions. I’m sure there were a lot of rehearsals that went into that during tech week. I thought that was really good.
Mike: The costumes were very well done. Some of the costumes did not have a lot to. The women were wearing bikinis or short lingerie outfits. The men were wearing bikinis or short longerie outfits at times. The main characters were wearing regular clothing. Generally everyone was wearing blacks and whites. It was very plain for the most part. There were a few scenes with the women at the boardinghouse. The men were wearing suits and the women were wearing regular dresses or house frocks, that type of thing. There were a few men from the navy, they were wearing navy outfits. The costumes really fit the show quite well. They were very suggestive for the women and the men of the Kit Kat Klub. Sally’s outfit at the end was see through so you could see her undergarments or bikini or whatever it was. Also the performers at the Kit Kat Klub, including the emcee, the girls and the guys, they all were wearing whiteface and other really strong make up to emphasize their faces. That worked really well.
Laura: For the most part the lights were pretty good. They did have some rough spots where they had the lights turned on the wrong person. Sometimes the spotlight wasn’t quite right. You could see it sort of zooming around trying to find the person it was supposed to shine on. Overall I thought it was really good.
Mike: There was one point wheer I think they missed an opportunity with the lighting. The closing number that Sally sings is called “Cabaret.” At the end I think it would have been really effective if they could have lit up the entire stage area with lots of bright lights or even colored lights to show that “Life is a Cabaret.” It has lots of colors and variations. That might have worked, it might not have worked.
I felt like the closing number was a little too simple. In fact the entire closing of the show, the finale, nobody in the audience knew if it was over or not. The lights didn’t come up. The people came out to do their bows. It was kind of a weird ending to the show. Not sure what the deal with that was. The band also didn’t play a closing number. They weren’t sure if they were supposed to leave or not. That was a little rough.
The show does contain a lot of adult situations and adult themes. The show touches on the isue of abortion, homosexuality, bisexuality, multiple sex partners, drug usage, morality of the Nazi Party, discrimination based on religion, and prostitution. So you can see there are lots and lots and lots of things you can talk about with your kids. Really young kids do not need to see this show. There were some young children there, probably because they had a sibling in the show. Since this theater is made up of people between the ages of 14 – 25, I would think that a lot of them have siblings they would want to see perform. This is a show not for under high school, maybe middle school, but probably high school at the youngest. Even then you do need to have a good talk with your children about the themes of the show. I did overhear one parent last night after the show, the child asked a question about one of the parts of the show. She kind of shushed him down and said, “We’ll talk about it later.” You do need to be ready to talk with your child about these very adult situations that come up.
Laura: Cabaret is playing Fridays and Saturdays through August 5 at 8 PM with a Sunday matinee on July 30 at 2 PM, at the Bethesda – Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland.
Mike: Once you’ve seen the show, we’d love to have your comments because this was a complex show. There are a lot of interpretations and a lot of deep meanings in this show. So we would like to hear your comments. You can do that at ShowBizRadio.net. We’d also like to invite you to join our mailing list so that you can get all of our reviews and other information on theaters in the DC metro area.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/1755.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.