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Damascus Theatre Company Cabaret

By • Feb 20th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Cabaret
Damascus Theatre Company: (Info) (Web)
Olney – Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, Olney, MD
Through February 24th
2:30 with one intermission
$20/$18 Seniors, Students/$25 Stage Seating
Reviewed February 15th, 2013

Berlin in the early 1930’s boasted one of the most freely-accessible and unabashed LGBT nightlife scenes in the world. To call it an open environment would be a hideous understatement. Drag clubs, burlesque shows, and easy sex made Berlin a very popular destination — especially to British author Christopher Isherwood, who moved there in 1929 just as the Weimar Republic was beginning to fall. There he took many lovers (presumably including a few females) in an attempt to experience all that the seedy underbelly of German society had to offer just before the end of the world. His experiences were chronicled and published in 1939 as The Berlin Stories, later to be dramatized in the 1950’s for the stage and screen in the form of John van Druten’s I am a Camera. This was further reworked by Joe Masteroff, John Kander, and Fred Ebb into the landmark Broadway musical Cabaret in 1966 with a film version following in 1972 — a career-making venture for such stage and screen legends as Joel Grey, Liza Minelli, Jill Haworth, and Lotte Lenya. This production, innocent though slightly risqué for its time, was unsurprisingly cleansed of too many references to male homosexuality. When it was revived by director Sam Mendes at London’s Donmar Warehouse in 1998 however, this new version ramped up the tension and darkness, and finally did justice to Mr. Isherwood’s true experiences in Berlin.

Unfortunately, none of these elements are present in the production of Cabaret currently being produced by Damascus Theatre Company at Olney Theatre Center. The production uses the script and score for the original 1966 version of the show, which has grown a little outdated given modern social mores — not to mention the fact that the director of this production explicitly states that this version veers furthest from the original source material. At the risk of criticizing the script chosen rather than the production itself, I have to say that this production in particular was completely devoid of the raw, urgent, gritty sexuality amidst impending doom that gives this show meaning.

Upon walking into the theatre, I found myself in a pentagon-shaped space with risers on one end and small cabaret tables on the other that put this show in the round. This was to be the Kit Kat Klub — an enigmatic non-space from which the company uses musical numbers to comment on the action of the play. Burlesque artwork on the walls and hanging lights reminiscent of the Broadway production of Spring Awakening made the set very effective — until the actors started using it. The show was meant to be presented in the round, but I can’t shake the suspicion that those seated at the cabaret tables paid extra money for three-quarters of the show that I saw. Furthermore, the only passage to the backstage area was a large door in plain view of the audience covered by a black curtain — which would have been fine if we wouldn’t have been able to see the dressing stations in full light anytime large set pieces had to be moved. This caused major traffic issues and made scene changes very tough to sit through. To compound the traffic issues even more, the performers used the corridors behind the audience risers to get around, as well as staircase aisles through the audience for entrances and exits. I liked this idea until I saw (and heard) performers whispering and socializing in full view of the audience. It’s one thing to interact onstage as a framing device, but these offstage performers showed a lack of professionalism that is absolutely inexcusable.

There were a few standout performers in the cast, but the acting overall left a lot to be desired. It was blatantly clear that no attempt whatsoever had been made by anyone involved to understand any of the German language used in the script, nor how to pronounce it. For those actors who attempted the German accent, the quality ran the gamut from extremely strong to laughably inaccurate. Many of the performances felt like people just reading lines rather than engaging the nuances of their characters — although the fault for that lies just as much with the director as with the actors. The best performance of the evening by far was Frieda Enoch as the ill-fated landlady Fraulein Schneider. Her accent was spot-on and her overall demeanor was utterly believable. It is deplorable however, that poor direction caused her scenes with paramour Herr Schultz to be stripped of all tenderness and depth — rendering their typically heartbreaking dénouement pallid and unmoving. Most disappointing for me personally was Jason Damaso as the ghostly Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub. It was plain to see that he’s a talented performer, but his lack of charisma and improvisation skills crippled his ability to perform the iconic role that made superstars of Joel Grey and Alan Cumming. Amanda Spellman was commensurate as Sally Bowles — the British star of the Kit Kat Klub and the object of Cliff’s (Isherwood’s direct equivalent/representation) brief flirtation with heterosexuality (or so it ought to have been). Lovely though her voice was, the director missed the point of Sally’s biggest number — the darkly comic and eponymous “Cabaret.” Because no real tension had been established beforehand, the song lacked the enormity of this tragic heroine’s world collapsing around her; it was less a defiant commitment to blissful ignorance and hedonism than an opportunity to simply showcase a young lady with a fantastic voice.

Director/Music Director Keith Tittermary should be commended for assembling an adept orchestra and for his arrangements of some of Kander and Ebb’s best-loved music, but his direction and his staging both have worlds of room for improvement. This script is full of complex interactions, nuanced character arcs, and extremes of human emotion — all of which seemed to have been sacrificed in favor of a pretty show that seemed to ache for the saccharine Broadway of yesteryear. The looming sense of dread as the Nazi regime draws nearer is absent from this production — replaced by a few scattered swastikas and a version of the song “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” that in no discernible way represents the NSDAP anthem it’s supposed to be. By toning down the already tame original version of the script, Mr. Tittermary has created a sterile, shallow interpretation of Cabaret. He has sacrificed authenticity in favor of an ensemble cohesion which alas, was not achieved. The abdication of honesty in acting as well as the utter lack of acknowledgement of the show’s gay elements put this show on par with Glee‘s blasphemous take on The Rocky Horror Show.

Cabaret‘s vague references to Nazism and attempted sexual innuendo render it unsuitable for little ones, but I cannot say that I honestly recommend this production at all. There are, of course, theatrical purists out there who would disagree with me and claim that the revival version is too dark, too sexual. Of them I ask: if you’re not going to tell the whole story authentically, what point is there in telling the story at all? Cabaret is not a show meant to keep people in their comfort zones! Even with the original script, there are opportunities to convey the darkness of this show — all of which were missed. If all of the elements of Isherwood’s fantastically debauched story are censored and polished clean, the show then defeats its own purpose and makes a “meeskite” (ugly/outcast) of not only the original author of its source material, but of all LGBT people. With a combination of poor direction and egregious miscasting, Damascus Theatre Company’s Cabaret lamentably fails to deliver on too many levels to deem worthy of a recommendation.

Director’s Note

“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.” – Christopher Isherwood, “Goodbye to Berlin,” 1939

In 1929, young writer, Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood traveled to Berlin where he would remain for 4 years. In that time he got inspiration for his novellas, “Goodbye to Berlin” (1939) and “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” (1935). Combined, these would later be published as the novel “The Berlin Stories,” which John Van Druten would adapt into the play and movie, I Am A Camera (Broadway: 1951; Film: 1955). And that is the basis for Cabaret.

Now, those who are familiar with Cabaret may notice that this is not the movie. And it is not the acclaimed Sam Mendes revival. No, this is the original 1966 Broadway version, which in reality, of all the versions of Cabaret, strays the most from the original source material. But, I chose this version due to one main difference: the emphasis on the ensemble. The Academy-Award winning movie made household names of Joel Grey and Liza Minelli, and every subsequent production has recreated these tour de force performances. By going back to the original, we are truly placing the story in the ensemble. At some point in the play, every member of the ensemble becomes a camera — recording, not thinking. Clifford Bradshaw is based on Isherwood himself, but so is every other member of the ensemble. Each character is in some way a part of Isherwood, someone he met; someone he knew; each person represents a moment in time from his journeys.

And in setting the play in an actual cabaret (to borrow the German spelling), each person in the theater tonight has an opportunity to take a glimpse at what is behind the shutter. And not all of it is pretty. At this moment in time, we are in the Weimar Republic, New Year’s Eve, 1930. In 3 years, on January 30, 1933, this world would forever change. This is that moment in time, when the realization of what is to come becomes evident.

So as you enter our club today, I want you to be a camera.

Observe and record.

Photo Gallery

Photo 1 Photo 2
Photo 3 Photo 4
Photo 5 Photo 6
Photo 7 Photo 8

Photos provided by Damascus Theatre Company

Cast

  • Master of Ceremonies (M.C): Jason Damaso
  • Clifford Bradshaw: Carl Williams
  • Ernst Ludwig: Matt Kopp
  • Fraulein Schneider: Frieda Enoch
  • Fraulein Kost: Mary McConnell
  • Herr Schultz: Micky Goldstein
  • Sally Bowles: Amanda Spellman
  • Kit Kat Girls: Laura Hetherington, Megan May, Debbi Patton, Tonya Pleasants, Leah Schwartz, Kedren Spencer
  • Kit Kat Boys: Zach Harris, DJ Wojciehowski
  • Two Ladies: Laura Hetherington, Megan May

The Kit Kat Band

  • Piano/Conductor: Arielle Bayer
  • Drums: Ricky Wise, Nate Hilburger
  • Reeds: Bob Greene
  • Trumpet: Earl Smith
  • Trombone: Kenny Horan
  • Guitar/Bass: Belvedere Morton

Production Team

  • Director/Music Director: Keith Tittermary
  • Co-Producers: Carol Boyle & Kathleen Richards
  • Choreographer: Laurie Newton
  • Assistant Director/Dance Captain: Megan May
  • Rehearsal Pianists: Arielle Bayer & Keith Tittermary
  • Orchestra Director: Arielle Bayer
  • Technical Director/Lighting Design: Rick Swink
  • Sound Design: Bill Brown
  • Properties/Set Dressing Set Painting: Maria Littlefield
  • Set Design: Bill Brown
  • Master Carpenter: Jim Korte
  • Stage Manager: Cathy Clark
  • Costume Design: Flo Arnold
  • Program: Scott Richards
  • Webmaster: Vitol Wiacek
  • Ticket Sales/House Manager: Elli Swink
  • Concessions Manager: Kelly Tilton
  • Set Construction: Jime Korte, Bruce Clark, Scott Conlon, Julia Junghans, Bill Lebair, Richard Ridge

Disclaimer: Damascus Theatre Company provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. DTC also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio web site, which did not influence this review.

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This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/9157.

, a native of Frederick, MD, has been heavily involved in every single facet of theatre for the majority of his life. He has been seen on stages in Frederick, Charles Town, WV, Kensington, MD, Greenbelt, MD, Gettysburg, PA, and many others. A two-time WATCH Award nominee, Eric has over 80 shows to his credit and is a double-graduate of Frederick County's Arts and Communications Academy in music and theatre. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Maryland and currently lives in Frederick.

9 Responses »

  1. I am the director and I want to comment on something.

    I think the problem with Cabaret and those who love it is that they view it from seeing the Sam Mendes production, and yes, I am “a theatre purist” as you point out, and I do agree that the revival was too dark. But (comments about individual performances aside), a lot of your critiques were basically because we chose to take a different interpretation on the material.

    Your final line shows your agenda:

    “If all of the elements of Isherwood’s fantastically debauched story are censored and polished clean, the show then defeats its own purpose and makes a “meeskite” (ugly/outcast) of not only the original author of its source material, but of all LGBT people”

    So, basically, I chose to not do a gay Cabaret. And that seems to be your biggest problem. I stand by our show.

  2. I am Arielle Bayer, the pianist/orchestra director for this show. Thank you for coming to see our performance of Cabaret.

    I teach music to special needs students. In my chorus class, I teach my students to sing rock and pop songs. I strive to instill one main goal through my lessons:

    When watching and/or listening to another person’s performance, be respectful of the various interpretations of songs.

    We listen to many different versions of songs, comparing various aspects. In not so many words, I explain that you don’t have to like the different versions/interpretations, but you do have to respect their artistry.

    My class always has an open chair for visitors.

  3. With all due respect to a fellow actor and theatre critic, I completely disagree with the non-recommendation of DTC’s “Cabaret,” for several reasons.
    1. A critic’s job is to watch what is ON the stage, not what s/he THINKS should be there. On this stage, and in the director’s chair, are actors who work or go to school during the day and spend evenings and weekends rehearsing for a show in which they’ll be paid absolutely nothing. Thus, choices are made based on preference, projected demographic of the audience, budget, and a host of other factors. This may mean that an actor is visible exiting the stage because there’s nowhere else for them to go. For lack of a better expression, so what? Audiences get that and they don’t care. They want what’s on stage to be good.

    2. I saw the February 21 performance, and did NOT find the actors facing the cabaret tables inequitably, nor did I see any cavorting or hear any chatting backstage. I saw a creative and cost-effective use of space.

    3. Regarding the writer’s criticisms of the actors, I disagree as well. From where I sat, the ensemble worked extremely well together, there was chemistry between leads and also dancers, and Jason Damaso’s MC was creepy, delicious, campy, and empathetic, all when he needed to be. He’s not Joel Grey, nor are we Roger Ebert. In my opinion, he glued the show together with his absurdity and uninhibited bellowing. Amanda Spellman’s final song was delivered with heartbreak and subtlety. Her Sally was so clearly covering up despair and loneliness with bravado and partying. By the time she reached that final number, her pain is justified, clear and real.

    4. Naziism was softened for the production. Ok. It’s a delicate balance between honoring the times and being sensitive to the audience. Please rest assured that the vision of a swastika-covered flag dangling from Damaso’s arms and framing his salacious grin is all it took to feel the knot of shock and fear. I appreciated the sensitivity.

    5. We as critics have power, it’s ingrained in our bylines. We should use that power to convey the positives positively, and the critiques constructively. We should decidedly NOT use our space as a platform for our personal politics.

    Submitted respectfully,
    Mara Bayewitz

  4. I was going to take the time to compose and post a comment, but Mara said everything I was going to say, and probably a lot more eloquently. THANK YOU, MARA!! We worked hard, and I am proud of what we accomplished.

  5. I played the Emcee in this production.

    I was hesitant to respond to this review because in general I don’t think that an actor should have to defend their work. Some people will like it and some won’t and that is the nature of art. But in this case, I completely disagree with your assessment of my acting abilities as they relate to character choices and I feel compelled to point out the fundamental difference.

    You did not agree with my interpretation of the Emcee and that is fair, but to question my acting abilities as a result is unfair and rather pretentious. From the very first audition, the director told me that what he absolutely did NOT want for the Emcee was a Joel Grey or Alan Cumming imitation. His exact words. He wanted my interpretation of the Emcee. I specifically did not watch any previous performances of Cabaret for that reason. I have never seen the movie and aside from a few brief YouTube clips of specific musical numbers, I did not watch any previous stage performances of this show. I have in fact never seen a production of Cabaret prior to the Damascus Theatre Company version. My goal was not to try and recreate a character that had already been done, but rather to create a new character that nobody had ever seen before. And that is what I do every night on that stage. The Emcee that you saw is truly MY Emcee. That is Jason Damaso as the Emcee. It’s clear that you didn’t agree with the character choices that I made, but that does not give you the right to question my abilities as an actor because I didn’t play the role the way you think it should have been done. Naturally, this character is unavoidably colored by some of the more iconic elements of prior versions, but it was never intended to be the same or even all that similar to others. The beauty of a character like this is that it really can be anything you want it to be and an actor need not be constrained to any specific choices. My hope is of course that the audience will not be constrained by their prior experiences either. I have received several positive responses to my performance and one negative one. I still wouldn’t change anything about it.

  6. I am compelled to add a follow up comment as I failed to mention it in my previous post, regarding the German accent.

    It’s permissible for a critic to mention if accents are inconsistent or poor. It is absolutely not permissible to state, as fact, that it’s “blatantly clear that no attempt whatsoever had been made by anyone involved to understand any of the German language used in the script, nor how to pronounce it.”

    Based on the above quoted text, I’m making my own assumption: the critic made absolutely no attempt whatsoever to find out if the actors studied the German dialect. This is an egregious practice in critique writing and all other forms of journalism. One never, ever makes statements of fact without having facts to support it. Frankly, I’m baffled that I even have to say this in response to an already-published critique, as one assumes this would be vetted in the editing process.

    I remain hopeful that this publishing error will serve to educate those in the field as to what NEVER to do.

    With respect,
    Mara Bayewitz

  7. OK — here goes. This being my first negative review, I never thought that people would take things so personally and force ShowBizRadio into this position. I’ve got a lot to learn about reviewing, but I honestly didn’t think this would enrage so badly.

    It’s true, I do have a certificate in LGBT Studies and I did work for HRC (Human Rights Campaign), but the idea that I have a bias or an “agenda” (to borrow the director’s word) is patently ridiculous. What I criticized were theatrical decisions that were made with which I did not agree. If someone else agrees with them, that’s fine — that’s what makes live theatre great. Now I feel it’s gone beyond art and taken to a personal level — an attack on my character.

    Here’s the thing: “Cabaret” is based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood, a British author who traveled to Berlin in the late ’20’s for inspiration. It is well documented that he was openly gay and went to Berlin specifically to experience its LGBT nightlife. Berlin was notorious in those days for having an extremely active gay social scene — a rare thing in such restrictive times. Ernst Röhm, captain of the SA (Sturmabteilung – Nazi stormtroopers) was a high-ranking Nazi official who was widely known to be gay, though it wasn’t spoken of (think Rock Hudson). Hitler tolerated it, but it put a lot of political pressure on him from radical Nazis. Röhm and a number of other officials were murdered by their own party during an event called “The Night of the Long Knives” in June/July of 1934. Although the killing was for more complex political reasons, Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis were trying to purify the NSDAP by purging it of homosexuality — this is all historical fact.

    Now, what does this have to do with “Cabaret?” Well, Röhm frequented the many gay clubs and bars in Berlin — the same clubs where Christopher Isherwood went and met many people who inspired the characters in “Cabaret.” Sally Bowles is based on a real person. The Emcee is based on a real person. The character of Ernst Ludwig may very well have been based on Röhm himself (although I will acknowledge that that is pure speculation on my part). They were all part of this sexually free society. Gay, straight, lesbian — it didn’t matter. That is, it didn’t matter until the Night of the Long Knives. Röhm was gay Berlin’s protection from the larger Nazi machine — with him gone, they had no hope. Isherwood saw this storm brewing and got out as soon as he could; his “Berlin Stories” were essentially a love letter to this quashed way of life. Again, ALL of this information is readily available and regardless of how anyone feels about it — it’s the way that it was.

    “Cabaret” has gone through many different revisions through the years, and the original version was cleaned up of all the references to gay Berlin in order to market it to the (pardon the pun) straight-laced masses in 1966. The 1998 revival (not a perfect show, but in my opinion, an improvement on the original) put a lot of those undertones back in without changing the script much at all. This made Cliff a FAR more three-dimensional and sympathetic character. It brought him more into the story he so desperately wanted just to observe — reinforcing the story’s themes of being sucked into strange and unfamiliar territory. It has always been (for me) a HUGE element of the story — confronting modern audiences with a not-so-pretty truth about the past, which Mr. Tittermary outlined as one of his objectives with this show.

    Let me please be crystal clear — my objection to Mr. Tittermary’s omission of gay undertones has NOTHING to do with my certificate or feelings of discrimination in ANY way. I wasn’t offended as a member of the LGBT community, rather just disappointed as a theatre person that the director didn’t get as much out of the story as was there. My comments may have seemed a bit to the contrary — for that misinterpretation, I apologize. I am very passionate about the fight for LGBT equality, but I never meant to insinuate that DTC was in any way being discriminatory. To put this more in context: if this were a production of “The Sound of Music,” you wouldn’t have heard a word from me about LGBT issues. The reason? That’s not what that story’s about. The story of “Cabaret” however, is about the exploration of a decadent society before that existence was wiped off the face of the earth along with millions of people. It is my opinion (again, as a THEATRE person, not as a member of the LGBT community) that if you’re going to tell such a story, it needs to be told to the fullest extent the script allows. For the record, the original 1966 version of the script still allows for plenty of subtext if the director chooses to put it in. If the director chooses not to, that’s fine but I feel it’s doing a disservice to the show. Again: not an end-all, be-all fact — just my personal opinion.

    When I saw the show, there was an essay by the director posted on the wall of the lobby. It was intended as an extended version of the director’s notes detailing exactly why he chose to do things one way or another. Whether Mr. Tittermary realizes it or not, I have immense respect for a director with a vision — even one with which I disagree. It just so happened that A) I disagreed with his vision, which is my right as an audience member and B) I also don’t think he did his own vision justice. I also had a big problem with the apparent lack of affection between Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider — two older straight characters whose doomed romance is charming and funny until the threat of Nazism rears its ugly head. The actors were both good, but there was so little affection between them that I think it cheapened their relationship as well as the story arc that gives their characters meaning. Call me naïve, but I think this could’ve been easily fixed with a few well-placed bits of direction. What people don’t seem to realize is that my complaint about this issue is EXACTLY THE SAME as my complaint about the lack of gay subtext: authenticity of the characters, their relationships, and the depth of the all-important story. It is clear to me that Mr. Tittermary is an educated man, and there were in fact some decisions he made that I liked. Perhaps I ought to have focused more on those, but that’s a rookie reviewer’s mistake and I own that. He clearly did a lot of research to prepare for this show, which is more than I can say for a lot of directors — my chief complaint was that it didn’t seem like much of this research found its way to the stage. That is my opinion, and people are free to disagree with me. I welcome disagreement and discussion about artistic interpretation, but to accuse me of political bias simply because I felt a significant portion of the story was missing is offensive to me.

    I have to be honest — I’m an extremely opinionated person (as if that’s not obvious by now), but I do have a heart. I was really disappointed that people seemed to take my review as a personal attack — I assure everyone it wasn’t meant to be anything of the sort. Most upsetting for me was Jason Damaso’s response to the review. He took my criticism of his performance as an attack on his credibility as an actor, which was the furthest thing from my objective. In fact, I made it a point to point out that I thought he was talented, though I completely understand the tendency to gloss over the positives if there’s even one negative. I don’t like to put people down at all, but when people who know the show read a review of “Cabaret,” they want to know specifically about Sally and the Emcee — roles that have made the careers of some legendary performers. Given this, I have a responsibility to report how I honestly felt. I know now that Mr. Damaso didn’t want to ape Joel Grey or Alan Cumming and I think that’s FANTASTIC! A new interpretation is great and welcome, but the thing that DEFINES this character is charisma. I’m sorry, but I just didn’t feel that Mr. Damaso showed the necessary moxy to fully flesh out the character and really shine. In other words, he was okay but I thought he personally could’ve done so much more because he is, in fact, talented. It truly breaks my heart to think that he and the others have taken my comments as personal insults.

    As I’m sure you all well know, there’s a really thin line between a constructive critique and an immature lambaste. I did everything in my power to err toward the former. If my words made my review seem like the latter, that is my fault and I recognize that. I’ve been thinking of ways to explain myself and my criticism, and to apologize for any misinterpretation or offense. The whole thing came down to artistic disagreement, NOT political bias. I know what it’s like to be bullied by a reviewer and that was never my intent, which is why I did my best to outline my argument for exactly why I disagreed with the choices. My certificate in LGBT Studies is actually a more of a minor that I earned for personal reasons in conjunction with my B.A., which is in Communication. Rhetorical strategy is adamant about being clear and concise in one’s argument and mine was this: the director clearly laid out his vision (more so than I’ve ever seen any director do), but something got lost in translation and in my opinion the show I saw did not live up to Mr. Tittermary’s vision.

    What was meant to be a constructive criticism has exploded into this political shitstorm, and I’m sorry for my part in it. I am not sorry, however, for the review. My job is to report how I feel about the production, and its strengths and weaknesses. While there were elements that worked, I couldn’t help but feel that the elements that didn’t work far outweighed those that did, so I couldn’t in good conscience recommend the show. It is entirely possible that another reviewer might refute everything that I said and as long as they present their argument cogently, I welcome that. Seriously, I feel that the beauty of art is that different people can see the same thing in totally opposite ways — the disagreements engender conversation that results in both parties learning more about the world and themselves. We all tend to be very set in our ways (I am no exception), and I implore you to understand that I did not mean to cause this much duress. My opinion may not be worth very much, but it is mine to express, and I am sincerely grateful to Michael Clark and ShowBizRadio for supporting me the way that they have. I NEVER meant to risk the credibility of ShowBizRadio.

    My friends have been telling me to shake this off, learn from it, and move on, but I feel that the issue requires further communication. I really hate that my words have hurt people, and I would very much like the opportunity to mend some fences and engage in a healthy dialogue about artistic interpretation. I have nothing against DTC, Mr. Tittermary, or ANYONE else involved with the show — I simply reported on the show that I saw. In the future I will absolutely temper my criticisms, but I had to be completely honest about how I felt. I realize that I can’t please everyone (especially as a reviewer), but I’ll not have my credibility as a human being called into question.

    Thank you for reading this incredibly long diatribe. I never meant to cause this discord and strife, and I’d be happy to talk with Mr. Tittermary for the purpose of making things right. I might have said some things that were harsher than I’d intended, but I am not a bad person. My SBR Author’s Archive is full of rave reviews of other shows, and there’s NOTHING to say that DTC’s “Cabaret” couldn’t have been among them. I think it needed a little more attention to detail both with technical elements as well as story interpretation, but that’s all. I’m young and I don’t have all the answers. Above all else, please understand that I meant absolutely no personal or professional disrespect to anyone involved. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn, and I look forward to making this right.

  8. As a hopeful tie up to all of this, I thought I would post a quick note,
    I am Bill Brown, the set designer of the production, and as one of the recipients of the few positive comments in the review, I say thanks for liking the design…Obviously, I am not a completely objective part of this, as I was involved with the production, but I like to think I can see a middle ground.

    My friends (both involved with the show and not) all felt there was the “agenda” that was mentioned underlying the entire review. Your friends, I am sure, disagree. None of us are professionals at any of this. Mistakes can be made, misunderstandings happen.
    In your review, lines such as: “— until the actors started using it”, “performers showed a lack of professionalism that is absolutely inexcusable.”, “It was blatantly clear that no attempt whatsoever had been made by anyone…”, “It is deplorable however…”, “The abdication of honesty in acting as well as the utter lack of acknowledgement of the show’s gay elements…”, “I cannot say that I honestly recommend this production at all.”, “egregious miscasting”, “lamentably fails to deliver on too many levels to deem worthy of a recommendation.”
    Hopefully, you can see why those types of phrases might come across as less constructive than cutting, especially if you are the target of them. Deplorable instead of unfortunate?

    You disagreed with some of the character choices, technical issues, etc. No problem, that is the core of any review, and I won’t go into challenging them or saying whether I agree or disagree. But Community Theater is very much it’s own animal from Professional, and not just for the obvious reasons. Every Community Theater production is a labor of love, not money making ventures, not paths to equity cards, not a way to make rent etc. Therefore it is often harder to shake off the negatives. I don’t want anyone out there who knows about this “situation” to somehow feel that DTC is too immature to take a bad review. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, it’s as easy as that. We can take it, trust me. But this particular review, especially based on the items I mentioned above, was particularly taken to heart.

    Now, if I may quickly put in my 2 cents on the “agenda”:
    My feeling since reading the review the first time was that you went into the show expecting one thing, it wasn’t there, and were extremely disappointed by the lack. But, this being the third production of Cabaret I have been involved in, there is one thing that has always been abundantly clear. This is not “I Am A Camera”, it is not “The Berlin Stories”, it is “Cabaret.” Christopher Isherwood was gay. Cliff Bradshaw isn’t. Was he inspired by Chris? Yes. Was the homosexual content watered down? Yes. But Fraulein Schneider was anti-Semitic in real life, should that be incorporated too?

    Theatrical works can always be viewed through a lens, but should never be criticized for respecting the ideas of the original work. Taming of the Shrew is ridiculously sexist. Annie Get Your Gun is too. Porgy and Bess is written by two white men, with lyrics and dialogue that most would consider racist today. Should none of these works be done as originally written? Should modernizations be foisted upon them no matter what? Many would say yes, I won’t pretend otherwise. I say no.

    Now, unfortunately, what I just wrote has the potential to become a long conversation on the nature of theatre, and I don’t think the SBR servers are ready for that, but I just wanted to put together some of the thoughts I have had since this all started. Hopefully you can see this side of the argument, or at least appreciate that there IS another side to the argument.

  9. I understand that you feel that the elements that didn’t work outweighed the ones that did, but I believe that the review could have been taken a bit better if you mentioned more than one or so. As an actor I appreciate criticism. But I need a little give and take. I was one of the Kit Kat boys and I know that an ensemble position isn’t always highlighted but I didn’t see a single thing about the ensemble. I think there needs to be at least a small part about every portion of the cast. I appreciate your defense and I appreciate the criticism but I feel unless you know what you did well and what you did poorly you can’t truly advance as an actor.