What good is sitting alone in your room? hat is one of the phrases in the title song from Kander and Ebb’s classic “Cabaret” now on the stage in Evanston as part of the 2013 season for Light Opera Works. Most all of us , due to the economy find ourselves sitting at home instead of getting out to enjoy the things around us and seeing this production is worth getting out for. The subject matter of “Cabaret” with a book by Jon Masteroff, based on “I Am A Camera ( Josh Van Druten/play and Christopher Isherwood/stories is not one that appeals to all- it is Berlin, prior to Hitler gaining his full political stature. The world was in economic crisis and Berlin was THE party city. The Kit Kat Klub was a place where everyone could be someone else and love connections were easy to make. The times were decadent and the people were hoping for a better future ( real or not). This being said, our story revolves around a young American, Cliff ( deftly handled by David Schlumpf) a writer who comes to Berlin seeking inspiration to write a book and the people he meets along the way- Sally Bowles ( an incredible performance by Jenny Lamb, who does not try to imitate Liza Minelli, developing her own interpretation, a singer from London who is caught up in the decadence of the surroundings she lives in.
There is another love story in this production- that of the German owner of a boarding house ( where Cliff sinds himself residing) Fraulein Schneider ( ( powerfully plyed by Barbara Clear) a German through and through and one of her boarders, Herr Schultz ( Jim Heatherly gives a solid performance in this difficult role) also a German, but a Jew! As the story progresses, and the Nazi movement gains strength we see the people of Germany caught between a “rock and a hard place”- they want better lives and more money! They want to be prideful and hold their heads up high! They are caught because they feel the politics that will take place when Hitler takes over is positive, not understanding what the price they will pay will be, or for that matter, what the plans are that will supposedly give them the pride they are seeking!
This production, the original, under the careful direction and choreographer of one of Chicago’s finest, Stacie Flaster is sparkling and eye opening. The dance numbers are different, unique and spectacular and her transitions from Klub to boarding house are as smoothe as silk with great use of the actors of the ensemble and the lighting (Andrew H. Meyers) . The set (Angela Weber Miller) is novel in its ability to change from place to place quickly and the costuming (jesus Perez) are extraordinary knowing that Light Opera Works has a more limited budget than most theaters. I found this production one of the finest and I have seen almost every version on many different stages. Those who know the show, are aware that it is the Emcee who is in fact the star and over the last several months we were aware that Artistic Director Rudy Hogenmiller, who we normally see onstage as our opening night “greeter” is living his lifelong dream of playing this role. Let me say this about Hogenmiller, he does not just play the role, he lives the role- his dancing is great, his voice superb and the twinkle in his eye, pure perfection! There is no one around town who could top him in this performance.
This is a show worth seeing during the short run ( thru August 25th) with a rock solid ensemble: Matthias Austin,Shaun Nathan Baer,John Cardone,Melissa Crabtree, Kaitlyn Dessoffy,Zachary Drane,Patrice Egleston, Lauren Emery, Jim Heatherly, Kyle Michael Kuhlman,Mark LeBeau,Kelly Maryanski,Robert Quintanilla,Janell A. Rinne, Lauren Serra,Daniel Spagnuolo ( quite the gorilla),Yael Wartens,Carrie Weis,Travis Austin Wright and Greg Zawada. There is also a stage band of ladies: Linda Madonia ( piano), Gail Crosson ( sax), Audrey Morrison (Trombone) and Debbie Katz Knowles ( percussion).- Great job ladies. This is in addition to the full orchestra ( a trademark of Light Opera Works) under the direction of Roger L. Bingaman.
Songs such as “Willkommen”, “Don’t Tell Mama”, “Two Ladies” ,”Married”, “Sitting Pretty”,”If You Could See Her”and of course the title song “Cabaret” will bring back memories, but be prepared for a better storytelling experience and Flaster’s fancy dancing- this is a special production of a classic musical. You only have until the 25th with performances as follows:
Wednesday, August 14th at 2 p.m.
Friday,August 16th at 8 p.m.
Sunday August 18th at 2 p.m.
Wednesday, August 21st at 2 p.m.
Saturday, August 24th at 8 p.m.
Sunday,August 25th at 2 p.m.
The performance takes place at Cahn Auditorium ( on the campus of Northwestern University) at 600 Emerson Street ( at Sheridan Road) and there is parking along Chicago Avenue and at City lots.
Tickets range from $32 and can be reserved/purchased by calling the box office at 847-920-5360 or online at www.LighOperaWorks.com
to see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Cabaret”n