Cabaret at Light Opera Works

 

Book by Joe Masterofflight opera works

Based on the play by John Van Druten

and stories by

Christopher Isherwood

Music by John Kander

Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Conductor Roger L. Bingaman

Stage Director & Choreographer Stacy Flaster

Produced by Light Opera Works

At Cahn Auditorium, Evanston

Stunning production true to the 1966 Broadway original is a major achievement.

Rudy Hogenmiller, the artistic director at Light Opera Works, returns to the stage after more than a decade, as the  Emcee in Kander & Ebb’s ground-braking Cabaret. Hogenmiller’s performance is a tour de force. Welcome back to the stage Rudy!

light opera works

Set in 1931 at the Kit Kat Club of Weimar Berlin, Cabaret.featuring the rich John Kander score with Fred Ebb’s biting lyrics, Cabaret is a multi-layered musical of decadence and desperation. Based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel, Berlin Stories, Cabaret from its 1966 Broadway opening (winner of 8 Tony’s) and the 1972 film (winner of 8 Oscars) has been mounted often to varying levels of success. Stacey Flaster’s Light Opera Works’ production is quite true to the original production with all the music and transition. It is a stunning visual and audio achievement.

Cabaret’s opening, “Willkommen” (one of the best ever of a Broadway musical) must create the sleazy atmosphere of the 1930 Berlin club. Rudy Hogenmiller pays homege to Joel Gray with his the eye-popping expressions and campy style necessary. He entices us us into his world. With the terrific Kit Kat Girls and the sweet Kit Kat Boys, the Kit Kat Club has a staff of deliciously sexy performers. Flaster’s choreography hints of the Bob Fosse’s style. This eye-popimg opening foretells the atmosphere of Berlin in 1931.

 Cabaret has two relationship stories—an American writer, Clifford Bradshaw (the charming David Schlumpf) who falls in love with a wild English showgirl, Sally Bowles (Jenny Lamb) and an older Greman woman, Fraulein Schneider (Barbara Clear) who loves a Jewish merchant, Herr Schultz (Jim Heartherly). The undercurrent in Gremany is the raise of the Nazis. Bradshaw is befriended by the German Ernst Ludwig (Matthias Austin) who lures Bradshaw into minor smuggling. When Sally moves in to Bradshaw’s boarding house, sparks fly despite between Sally and Cliff.. Add the flamboyant whore, Fraulein Kost (Patrice Egleston) and Cabaret has enough story and unique characters to depict the decadence of 30’s Berlin.

light opera works

 Cabaret is filled with terrific songs. “So What?” is Fraulein Schneider’s ode to her loneliness. Barbara Clear is terrific as the older German woman starving for love. She knocks out “What Would You Do” with a haunting feeling that goes to the heart. Her duets with Jim Heatherly (Herr Schultz) “It couldn’t Please Me More” and “Married” were pure romance and quite charming.

Hogenmiller as the Emcee, delivers several campy and satiric songs: “Two Ladies,” Sitting Pretty,”  “If you could See Her” and “I Don’t Care Much.” Rudy is amazinly effective as the mood-setting Emcee who comments with body language and electrifying eyes on the story.

But Cabaret needs Sally Bowles to be a flighty, hedonistic and emotional insecure soul. Jenny Lamb was effective as Bowles. She combines a fine voice with her sex appeal to become a winning Sally Bowles.  She delivers “Don’t Tell Mama,” with zestful sexuality. She brings deep emotions to the signature tune “Cabaret” that tops off a worthy performance.

 This powerful production is emotionally deep as it drills into the audience’s heart. It hints at the troubles to come through the scary German patriotic song “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” that taps into the nationalistic pride of the Germans that the Nazi’s exploited.

 it is most refreshing to see such a richly stage, visual stunning and richly orchestrated version of Cabaret. Young theatre patrons and  theatre artist need to see this production to experience how the original production was staged. Stacey Flaster’s innovative additions just made the work more effective. Rudy Hogenmiller’s return to the stage needs to be celebrated. Don’t miss this special show.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At Cahn Auditorium,  600 Emerson, Evanston, IL, www.musictheaterworks.com, call 847-920-5360, tickets $32- $92, Wednesday, Aug. 14 at 2pm, Fridays, Aug. 16 at 8pm, Saturday, Aug. 17, Sunday, Aug. 18 at 2pm, Wed. Aug. 21 at 2pm, Saturday, Aug. 24 at 8pm, Sunday, Aug. 25 at 2pm, running time is 2 hours, 45 minutes with intermission.

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