CABARET (Roundabout Theatre): Tomorrow belongs to…

Cabaret THE CAST CLICK A NAME BELOW TO READ CREDITS Jon Peterson Emcee  Leigh Ann Larkin LEIGH ANN LARKIN Sally Bowles  Benjamin Eakeley BENJAMIN EAKELEY Cliff  Alison Ewing ALISON EWING Fräulein Kost, Fritzie  Mary Gordon Murray MARY GORDON MURRAY Fräulein Schneider  Scott Robertson SCOTT ROBERTSON Herr Schultz  Patrick Vaill PATRICK VAILL Ernst Ludwig ENSEMBLE CLICK A NAME BELOW TO READ CREDITS Kelsey Beckert KELSEY BECKERT Sarah Bishop SARAH BISHOP CHELSEY CLARK Jenna Zito Clark JENNA ZITO CLARK Ryan DeNardo RYAN DENARDO Lori Eure LORI EURE KENDAL HARTSE Andrew Hubacher ANDREW HUBACHER Joey Khoury JOEY KHOURY CHRIS KOTERA Tommy McDowell TOMMY MCDOWELL Laura Sheehy LAURA SHEEHY Steven Wenslawski STEVEN WENSLAWSKI Bob Amaral BOB AMARAL Lucy LUCY SORLUCCO CREATIVE TEAM CLICK A NAME BELOW TO READ CREDITS JOE MASTEROFF Book JOHN KANDER &  FRED EBB Music & Lyrics SAM MENDES Original Director ROB MARSHALL Original Co-Director & Choreographer BT MCNICHOLL Director CYNTHIA ONRUBIA Associate Choreographer & Choreography  Re-created by PATRICK VACCARIELLO Musical Supervisor/Vocal Arrangements ROBERT BRILL Set Design WILLIAM IVEY LONG Costume Design PEGGY EISENHAUER Lighting Design MIKE BALDASSARI Lighting Design KEITH CAGGIANO Sound Design MICHAEL GIBSON Orchestrations DAVID KRANE Dance & Incidental Music ROBERT COOKMAN Music Director/Contractor PAUL HUNTLEY Hair & Wig Design ROBERT AMODEO Make-up Design JOHN M. ATHERLAY Production Stage Manager ROBERT V. THURBER Stage Manager NIKKI LINT Assistant Stage Manager JIM CARNAHAN, C.S.A. Casting LARRY MORLEY Technical Supervisor RICHARDS/CLIMAN, INC. General Manager BOND THEATRICAL GROUP Press & Marketing Director GENE FEIST Founding Director, Roundabout Theatre Company ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY Todd Haimes, Artistic Director

I had a panicky moment at the end of Act I when, at the party celebrating the engagement of Fraulein Schneider (Mary Gordon Murray) and Herr Schultz (Scott Robertson), Herr Ludwig (Patrick Vaill), wearing a swastika armband, begins to sing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” a horrifyingly catchy Nazi tune. He turns to us and asks everybody to join in, and, for terrible moment, I feared the audience would begin to sing with him. They didn’t, of course, but it did speak meaning about today’s political climate. And, I suppose, about the state of my psyche.

CABARET, the brilliant Kander and Ebb show, filled with some terrific songs (“Wilkommen,” “Maybe This Time”) is about the decadence of Weimar Germany and the rise of Nazism. A young American, Clifford Bradshaw (Benjamin Eakeley) arrives in Berlin to write a novel; he meets Sally Bowles (Leigh Ann Larkin), a showgirl at the Kit Kat Klub who becomes his roommate and his lover.

The proceedings are emceed by our guide through this sleazy world, Emcee (Jon Peterson). This is the role that Alan Cumming made famous, and reprised a few years ago in Roundabout Theatre’s sensational production at Studio 54 under Sam Mendes’ original direction. To say that Cumming is a hard act to follow is to state the obvious, and it takes a brave, and perhaps foolish man to follow that hard act. Jon Peterson is—maybe inevitably—disappointing.

The show is a blunt assault rather than an insidious argument; loudness is a problem throughout, as it often is with touring productions, as if everyone not in New York were somewhat deaf; the cast is miked to the max, obscuring lyrics and blasting the dialogue.

Whatever the distinction is between vulgar and decadent, it is a distinction blurred here: this debauched and degenerate Berlin looks more like a crude TV show, not a dangerous and somehow sophisticated ruin. But maybe the relevance factor is that it takes more to shock us these days: when everybody and his/her aunt/uncle is wearing green nail polish, we can’t be expected to gasp at Sally’s.

[Academy of Music 240 S. Broad Street] April 4-9, 2017kimmelcenter.org.

 

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About the author

Toby Zinman

Toby Zinman is Professor of English at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a Fulbright professor at Tel Aviv University and a visiting professor in China. She publishes widely and lectures internationally on American drama. Her fifth book, Replay: Classic Modern Drama Reimagined, was recently published by Methuen, and she has just finished an essay, "Visions of Tragedy in Contemporary American Drama," due out in 2017. Zinman is also the chief theater critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. She was named by American Theatre magazine as, “one of the 12 most influential critics in America.” Her travel writing has taken her all over the world, from dogsledding in the Yukon to hiking across England.