Theatre Review: 'Cabaret'

Having already been the material for a very well-known film directed by the legendary Bob Fosse and starring the incomparable Liza Minelli with Michael York and Joel Grey, any new stage production of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret necessarily labors under huge expectations from this daunting precedent.

Unfortunately, this production of Cabaret, produced by Two One-Way Tickets to Broadway Productions, and directed and choreographed by Linette Smith, is squeezed into a venue that at times feels small for the director's ambition.

The very volume of the live band drowns out the actors' lines at times. Sometimes more than a dozen actors are trying to dance a number in a short amount of space in and around the already cramped set dressings. This appears to be part of the reason that the chorus line dancers are constantly watching their feet and each other for cues, rather than confidently performing for the audience. The dance numbers aren't sharply executed and often unsynchronized. Ultimately, the dancers don't give us that raw sexuality we'd come to expect from Fosse's interpretation of Weimar Germany.

The main actors appear to be better singers than actors, with the exception of Zoe Hawnt, who stands out as the most doubly talented performer. The actors are often talking with their backs to the audience, which adds to the confusion of the theatre experience. Also, their accents are muddled and inconsistent.

This reviewer tried really hard to find something redeeming in this production, and if pushed I'd have to say there are some small moments when the direction comes together, mostly with Fraulein Schneider. In the end, all of these directorial shortcomings overshadow the brilliant story, music, and themes of Cabaret.

One and a half stars out of five.

Cabaret runs November 11th to 20th at Catalyst Theatre.

more in Theatre Review     |     posted Nov 15th, 2010 at 11:32am     

Comments: 2

denise kneteman wrote:

It seems like Kristin Rodier went to the Catalyst Theatre expecting to see Bob Fosse's "A Chorus Line", not Two One-Way Tickets to Broadway Theatre Company's interpretation of "Cabaret", and I found it extremely immature that she compared this recent production of Kander and Ebb's 1966 play to the 1972 Hollywood extravaganza directed by Bob Fosse. Yes, The Catalyst Theatre is small, and yes, the dancers were not hand-picked by Fosse, yes there were likely some sound and staging issues, but I seriously doubt that Linette Smith was trying to re-create Fosse's interpretation of Weimar Germany. Rodier seemed to take great issue with the direction of this production, perhaps she was expecting Liza Minelli and Joel Grey to leap out onto the stage. I found it extremely disappointing and immature that Rodier felt "pushed" to find only small moments redeeming quality with this production given the obvious talent of Martin Galba (The M.C.) and the supporting cast. Did Rodier really think that the Kit Kat Club was more than a dank, dark, sweaty, smelly hole in the wall, could she not appreciate the underlying themes of the impending Nazi occupation? The reviewer's obvious dislike of the direction of this production overshadowed many outstanding moments in Two One-Way Tickets to Broadway interpretation of Cabaret, and a measly rating of 1.5 stars out of 5 is contemptuous, and overly critical. Next time See Magazine, send someone who is prepared to review a live play, with local actors, not a Hollywood movie directed by Bob Fosse.

on Nov 18th, 2010 at 7:18pm Report Abuse

ChrisLiu wrote:

When there is such a well-known version of the same production existing - even if it's a different medium - it's hard not to draw some comparisons. In fact, I would expect the reviewer in this case to draw some comparative references, not overt, but also not dismiss the influence of the other work either, and I think Ms. Rodier hit the proper tone.

To me at least, I didn't feel the reviewer was expecting any recreation of said "Hollywood extravaganza", just giving the reader a point of reference.

on Nov 19th, 2010 at 12:02am Report Abuse

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