I just got home from seeing Cabaret at the Gerding theater at the Armory. Even as I was sitting in the balcony waiting for the show to start, I was a little subdued and resistant, not really feeling like sitting still for three hours, just not really in a “play” mood.
And then the opening scene came and I was a goner. I had forgotten how strong the music from this play really is, and the cast delivered it with all due enthusiasm, deviance and abandon. That scene opener was worth the price of admission.
As so often seems to be true in Cabaret, the MC steals the show, even over the little-big name in the leading role. Storm Large (sans Balls) does a fine job as Sally and really has the pipes to sell her songs, particularly the signature number. But she’s fighting an uphill battle, the MC role is just way too fun. Google tells me that actor was Wade McCollum.
As a stagecraft geek, I feel obliged to mention the minimalist set. The stage was a large rotating platform, with a smaller, non-rotating platform in the middle of it. They used this to great effect, with a small set of pieces being loaded on the back of the large platform, a bed and desk for Cliff and Sally’s boarding room for instance, while a Cabaret scene happened on the front of the platform. The rotating set, flies coming in and out and artful use of the curtains only added to the dynamics of the play, emphasizing the energy of scenes.
I only have two small snarks; the cabaret portion of the cast looked like extras from an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog; hairless, buff, ripped and cut. I was reminded of a college production of West Side Story I worked on, where the two teen gangs were populated by the cadre of cute gay boys in the theater department. The knife fight between the Sharks and the Jets looked less like urban violence and more like a cat fight. This was also the first play I’ve seen where the performers were micced. I’m used to that theater snobbery that says “If you can’t project your voice to the very back row, you don’t belong here.” Maybe that’s hopelessly outdated today.
Snarks aside, it was a hell of a show. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend it.