Cabaret: A Play for the Times
“There was a Cabaret and there was a Master-of-Ceremonies and there was a city called Berlin in a country called Germany and it was the end of the world . . . and I was dancing with Sally Bowles and we were both fast asleep.” –Cabaret, Act II, Scene 12
If you have little idea of what to do in this newfound darkness, literal and political, go to see Cabaret, currently on stage at the Hopkins Center’s Moore Theater. The Emcee beckons; life inside the Cabaret is “beautiful.” Just like the fictional Cabaret, this production is filled with fun: naughty costumes, the humorous interplay between the naïve young American, Clifford Bradshaw, and the worldly “toast of Mayfair,” Sally Bowles, cheeky little numbers like Don’t Tell Mama and Two Ladies. Not to mention the Kit Kat Girls and the live orchestra, tuning up as the audience is taking their seats. It brings light to the darkness. But not forever.
Virginia Ogden as the Emcee
If you’re worried how you could ever see Cabaret again without the stupendous performance of Alan Cumming in either of his runs on Broadway, fear not. Virginia Ogden, in a gender-switched role (you can read more about that here) in a gender-fluid milieu, is just perfect. As the Emcee, she is your tour guide. She creates and walks the edge between friendly and a tad menacing. Her movements are nuanced and precise. Her face conveys everything; one cannot stop watching her.
Two Ladies: Brooke Bazarian as Lulu, Matthew Treiber as Hans, Virginia Ogden as Emcee
Lela Gannon is a convincing and weary Fraulein Schneider, conveying a maturity beyond her years as her character cautiously makes her way to a precipice that could change her life, only to decide against it. Justine Goggin brings Sally Bowles to life, and both Gannon and Bowles can sing. Clifford Bradshaw, portrayed by Zachary Gottschall, is appropriately earnest until the light dawns. Owen O’Leary, in the role of Herr Schultz, is sweet in the scene in which he presents his love for Schneider with his fruit cart in tow.
Justine Goggin as Sally Bowles, Zachary Gottschall as Bradshaw, Lela Gannon as Fraulein Schneider, and Ryan Spector as Ernst Ludwig
It is in Act II that one realizes, along with Clifford, that the party is over. The rise of the Nazis eclipses even the fun times at the Cabaret. Fraulein Schneider makes her grim peace with it. Bowles prefers to remain blind. Cliff gets woke. If by this time you are not—woke, that is-- the final scene will do it. Your hand will instinctively clutch your heart.
Cabaret will be at the Moore Theater November 9 through November 12. For times and tickets, go to the Hopkins Center box office. Photos by Rob Strong, courtesy of the Hopkins Center. Your comments are welcome below.
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