The Cygnet Theatre Production of Cabaret Pulls Through Despite of Pandemic Setbacks

A Fun and Fresh Take on the Broadway Classic 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Cabaret is one of musical theatre's classic classics that debuted in 1966. An adaptation of the 1945 novel The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood featuring music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff. Cygnet adapted a production of Cabaret in 2011. Now 11 years later, in even more different times, struggling post and still kind of mid-pandemic, the 2022 production that dealt with a number of delays and changes finally came to the stage again with Karson St. John returning to her role as Emcee, for which she won a San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award in 2011 as Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical. St. John took a break after that and this same role marks her comeback. Life and theatre always have unexplained ways of working themselves out. Also reprising his directorial 2011 role is Cygnet Artistic Director Sean Murray.

The 1972 film version of Cabaret starring Liza Minelli, and directed by Bob Fosse was a phenomenon where both Minelli and Fosse won an Academy award.

A musical that has different moving pieces, a lot of skin, and is tough to deal with during key and gasping moments. The story set in Berlin in 1930, takes place mainly in the Kit Kat Klub where Sally Bowles (Megan Carmitchel), a British cabaret singer, is the star variety. A tad clueless and all over the place, she meets struggling American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Wil Bethmann) who goes to the Klub by recommendation of Ernst Ludwig (Gerardo Tonella) who he met on a train and was doing mysterious businesses smuggling suitcases and doing trips to Paris. Things start getting hot and heavy between Sally and Cliff. She even moves in with Cliff where he is renting which is a whole other world of happenings, led by Fräulein Schneider (Linda Libby) who is trying to keep a decent living arrangement and order but the necessity during those trying times complicates the dynamic as Fräulein Kost (Jasmine January) keeps hosting "cousins" that happen to be sailors every day. Fräulein Schneider cannot keep up and she also has her heart to tend to and Herr Schultz (Eddie Yaroch), a local fruit vendor, is ready to do that. This is all happening during the rise of the nazi party of which Ludwig is part. The Kit Kat Klub seems like a safe space but it is not. Herr Schultz is Jewish and as the fear comes in, everything changes. Sans spoilers, Cliff wants out and decides to return to the States, Sally has been lying and Fräulein Schneider has a change of heart.

I did not have the opportunity to see the 2011 production but this time around I was very happy to see fellow Tijuanense Gerardo Tonella as the vicious Ludwig. He was fantastic! the German accent, the intention, the fluidity, it was just perfect and I hope more stages consider Gerardo for more roles because he definitely has the chops. Megan Carmitchel is tender and bold at the same time as Sally.  Karson St. John is fierce as the Emcee and totally takes the show and even cameos as one of the Kit Kat girls. There is also a powerful scene that preludes the intermission which I would say is one of the strongest and hardest to watch, St. John is amazing and powerful in it. Linda Libby and Eddie Yaroch are so cute and loving. Luke H. Jacobs as Max and part of the pre-show act, had audiences interacting and laughing all the way to the shrewd and manipulative cabaret main man. He has a tap sequence that I sooo wish he had done with tap shoes. Call me nitpicky.

The set based on original designs by Sean Fanning and brought to life by Associate Scenic Designer Mathys Herbert is a two-floor stunning piece that definitely boosts the production as well as the lighting design by Amanda Zieve. This is such an iconic show known as well for the moves and the wardrobe... Choreography and wardrobe left me definitely wanting more. I felt that it was not as tight as other aspects of the show like the intention, for example. The production also did a gender switch with Helga played by Allen Lucky Weaver which made it fun and fresh. Marc Caro is very good in the various roles played but mostly in the If you Could See Her track also known as "The Gorilla Song" which is so beautiful and additionally punches you in the gut having everything fall into place.

It is not easy to put on a production like this and hit the gut-punching marks. Bravo to Cygnet for continuing despite the setbacks. If you have the opportunity, go, support, and enjoy one of Broadway's must-sees.

Currently playing until October 2. For performance times and ticket prices please click HERE.

Photo captions: 

  • Cabaret cast members. Photo by Ken Jacques Photography
  • Megan Carmitchel, Wil Bethmann. Photo by Ken Jacques Photography
  • Karson St. John. Photo by Rich Soublet Photography

No comments:

Post a Comment