Book by Joe Masteroff
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Music by John Kander
Directed by Matt Hawkins
Musical Direction by Mike Przygoda
Choreographed by Marissa Moritz
Produced by the – hypocrites
At Chicago DCA Theater
Sexy, energetic production of Cabaret has its moments
I have ambivalent feeling about the – hypocrites’ production of 1966 hit Broadway musical, Cabaret. Director Matt Hawkins made some curious decisions both about casting and staging of Kander & Ebb’s Broadway musical.
Hawkins goes for a raunchy, sexy decadence ridden Cabaret. He cast a female (Jessie Fisher) as the Emcee. Unfortunately, Miss Fisher lacks the vocal chops and the sensual, enticing charisma to hook us. Lindsay Leopold, as Sally, failed to generate the emotionally mixed up persona of Sally. She failed to nail her emotional charged songs- “Maybe This Time” and the eleven o’clock anthem “Cabaret” with the necessary gusto . Marissa Mortiz’s choreography flaunted sexual movement and quickly became banal.
Cabaret is the cautionary tale of what Germany will become once the Nazi’s take over. It’s 1930, Berlin, and Sally sings at the Kit-Kat Club. Cliff is an American writer searching for identity as he struggles to write a novel. Sally and Cliff become roommates and lovers.
The hypocrites production has many strong points. The orchestra under Mike Pryzgoda’s direction richly rendered John Kander’s score. The set design (by Marianna Csaszar) featured a circular center depicting a night club. Alison Siple’s provocative costumes reeked of sexuality while Heather Gilbert’s lighting enriched the production.
Among the performances, Michale Peters’ Cliff, Jim Heatherly’s Schultz and Kyle Erkonen’ little Boy were quite effective. Robert McLean, sporting an authentic German accent, was eerily forceful as the Nazi zealot. Kate Harris almost steals the show as Fraulein Schneider. She nails her two songs, “It Couldn’t Please Me More” and the haunting “What Would You Do?” with deep emotional truth.
I question the need for the second intermission since several audience members thought the show was over and left the theatre. This production of Cabaret became darker as it progressed. It has a violent ending foreshadowing events to come in Germany.
With strong material, terrific score and lyrics, Cabaret is wonderful musical fare. The hypoctites’ production has enough production values to be worth a look. I think those who have never seen Cabaret will enjoy it more that those of us who have seen many stellar Cabarets.
At the Chicago DCA Theater, 66 E. Randolph, Chicago, IL