‘Cabaret’ cunningly reflects contradictions of human nature

By all means, come to this “Cabaret.”

Just don’t expect to leave your troubles outside. It’s not that kind of musical.

Some productions of “Cabaret” — which captured a best musical Tony in 1966 and a best musical revival Tony in 1998 — sneak up on you, disarming you with a wink and a quicksilver smile that’s forever hovering on the edge of a snarl. Not this one.

At The Smith Center through Sunday, this touring version of the 2013 restaging of the 1998 revival (got all that?) isn’t much interested in anything resembling restraint.

From the get-go, it’s in your face, cheerfully — and defiantly — depicting the hell-bound hedonism of 1930 Berlin, as the let-it-all-hang-out excesses of Germany’s dying Weimar Republic are about to give way to a new nationalism, propagated by a political force the world would soon come to know as Nazism.

Any resemblance to our own fractured political landscape (or the fractured political landscape of the 1960s) is far from coincidental. But that’s only because “Cabaret” so cunningly reflects the inherent contradictions of human nature.

Inspired by Christopher Isherwood’s “Berlin Stories” (and John Van Druten’s aptly titled dramatization, “I Am a Camera”), “Cabaret” focuses on contrasting characters caught up in, but doing their best to overlook, the gathering maelstrom.

Some of them work at Berlin’s tawdry, beyond-titillating Kit Kat Klub, where the leering Master of Ceremonies (“Queer as Folk’s” slyly insinuating Randy Harrison) proves a gleeful, malevolent guide to the audience’s most shadowy desires, sexual and otherwise.

The Kit Kat Klub provides the initial meeting ground for “Cabaret’s” central couple: dissolute chanteuse Sally Bowles (reckless, feckless Amanda Goss), whose talents lie more in fast living than fast music; and aspiring writer Cliff Bradshaw (stalwart yet sensitive Lee Aaron Rosen), who’s about to find plenty of material for his new novel after he takes up with Sally.

Yet there’s another, more soothing side to “Cabaret,” one the 1972 movie version all but obliterated: a Berlin boarding house where Cliff (and, eventually, Sally) take refuge. It’s run by Fraulein Schneider (the beautifully rueful Shannon Cochran), whose romance with tenant Herr Schultz (Mark Nelson, in courtly mensch mode) may not survive the riding tide of anti-Semitism.

There are times when “Cabaret” betrays its mid-20th-century musical origins, from librettist Joe Masteroff’s tidy two-couple plot structure to John Kander and Fred Ebb’s finely crafted character songs — most of which the movie discarded, all the better to concentrate on the show’s forever-socko Kit Kat Klub numbers.

And director BT McNicholl (working from the template created by original revival directors Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall) takes his own sweet time getting things in gear, especially during the show’s long-sit first half.

Then again, it takes time to set us up for “Cabaret’s” second-act jolts, from Sally’s more desperate than jaunty rendition of the title song to the show’s final, haunting image — accompanied by the same relentless drumroll that first snaps “Cabaret” (and those of us in the audience) to attention.

By the time we hear that snare drum bringing the show to a close, the world has changed, irrevocably — and so have we. But never mind. As Cliff observes of life at the Kit Kat Klub, “It’s so tawdry and terrible, and everyone’s having such a great time.”

Read more stories from Carol Cling at reviewjournal.com. Contact her at ccling@reviewjournal.com and follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20 – Tara Mack
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like