Saturday February 24th 2018

“Cabaret”

It seems that no matter what play or who directs and /or choreographs it, The Paramount Theatre in Aurora comes out as a HIT!. There are those who say it is the D.U.I. of Jim Corti, the Artistic Director. In this case, DUI means Direction under the influence of the master, Mr. Jim Corti. From day one, this theater has glistened with the creativity of this genius, and it seems all of the staff in this fantastic theater follow his lead ( and that of Tim Rater, CEO & President). Thanks to these fine gentlemen, Aurora has a theater that the entire city can be proud of!

Their current production is “Cabaret” the Kander & Ebb Musical ( with a book by Joe Masteroff)based on the original book “I Am A Camera”, taking us back to 1931, Berlin, Germany, prior to the Nazi’s taking over. It was a special time, when the people felt good about their lives and in the book, stories by Christopher Isherwood, transferred to a play by John Van Druten, we learn of the American writer who intends to write the “Great American Novel”. In this finely directed (Kate Spelman has brought this to a whole new standard) and choreographed play, we see this intimate production placed on a much larger stage and it works!

As we took to the highway to get to Aurora, Jane said that it seems that each year, one of the regional  theater companies has done a version of this show; large stages, in-the-round- stages and a smaller stage. While they have all had positives, I found this production to be even stronger than the previous ones, partly due to Spelman’s direction, but probably more so due to the cast that she has assembled to tell us the story of  Clifford Bradshaw (Garrett Lutz) the writer that has come to Germany to not only write his book, but also to find himself. Sally Bowles ( an incredible performance by Kelly Felthous) an English performer who Cliff meets, falls in love with and changes his life is a role that is as important as that of Cliff. We watch these two lovers go through the ups and downs of life within a short period of time. They meet on New Year’s Eve, 1931 and we watch the world around them go from “beautiful” to “not so beautiful”, very quickly.

There is another love story in this play. That of the woman who owns the rooming house where Cliff lives, Fraulein Schneider ( Chicago favorite Hollis Resnik adds some extra feeling to this character- I fell in love with her myself) and her tenant, a fruit store owner, Herr Schultz ( an amazing performance by Ron E. Rains, who surprised me with his vocal range), who happens to be Jewish. They are beautiful together with songs;  “Married”, “What Would You Do?” ( bring a tissue for this one), “So What” and the adorable “It Couldn’t Please Me More-A Pineapple”. The fact is, he IS German, but because he is also Jewish, he is not treated as a member of this race.

Of course, the character that truly stands out is the Emcee (Joseph Anthony Byrd is a welcome addition to this theater- they just keep finding the right talent for each production). Watching him is absolutely worth the price of the ticket as he does the opening number  “Wilkommen” (with the entire company), “Two Ladies ( done with two men doing the ladies ;William Carlos Angulo and J. Tyler Whitmer),  “If You Could See Her” and “I Don’t Care Much” ( a chilling version of this monumental song). It is hard to take your eyes off of him!

The cast is filled with talent: Ernest Ludwig, the German who befriends Clifford and welcomes him to Berlin, is played by Brandon Springman; the sexy Fraulien Kost who is as sexy as I have ever seen is played to perfection by Meghan Murphy, Liam Quealy handles the “Tomorrow” solo ( the second time it is done by the ensemble led by Ms Murphy’s Fraulien Kost); the Gorilla is played by Adrienne Storrs, the chanteuse by Carol Buinis and the Kit Kat Girls: Cassandra Porter, Adrienne Storrs, Amy Biddle Owens, Jessica Palkovic, Erin Kilmurray and Kristian Brooks. The Kit Kat Boys: Mr. Angulo, Martin Ortiz Tapia, Danny Dwayne Wells II and J. Tyler Whitmer.

Other ensemble members who play a multitude of roles are: Gilbert Domally, Carl Herzog, Aaron Umsted, and Patrick De Laney ( as Max).

The set (Scott Davis) is a two -story one with walls that move in and out easily, so no time is wasted in moving from scene to scene. The lighting (Yael Lubetzky) is solid and mood setting and the sound ( Adam Rosenthal )perfect. Mieka van der Ploeg’s costumes are ideal and different from previous productions presented. Very original. Amanda Relaford handles the many props and the hair and makeup by Katie Cordts was stunning. Tom Vendafreddo is the musical director and the orchestra conductor and as always, every note is on target.

“Cabaret” will continue thru March 18th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thursdays: 7:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 1:00pm & 5:30pm

 

Show Type: Musical

Box Office: 630-896-6666

paramountaurora.com/events/cabaret/
The theater is located at 23 East Galena in Downtown Aurora with street parking, garage parking and valet parking available

To see what others are saying visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Cabaret “.

This may be the Best Musical of The Year!

Leave a Comment

More from category

“Cosi Fan Tutte” review by Jacob Davis
“Cosi Fan Tutte” review by Jacob Davis

★★★★★ Sublime music mismatched with fluffy subject matter—that’s the long-standing criticism of Wolfgang [Read More]

“The Wolves”
“The Wolves”

As someone who has spent many years around soccer, in particular, girl’s/women’s soccer, watching the [Read More]

“Southern Gothic”
“Southern Gothic”

★★★★★Let me preface my review of the latest production at Windy City Playhouse, by explaining that it is not [Read More]

“Surely Goodness and Mercy”
“Surely Goodness and Mercy”

Highly Recommended **** One of my favorite “storefront” theaters is Redtwist, a PURE storefront on Bryn [Read More]

“Breach”
“Breach”

The actual title of the play now onstage at The Victory Gardens Theater is “Breach: a manifesto on race in [Read More]