This is the last weekend to enjoy the local production of ‘Cabaret’ at The Sheldon Vexler Theatre with the final showtimes at 8p.m. on Saturday and 2:30p.m. and 7:30p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $23 for general admission, $20 for seniors/military and $19 for JCC (Barshop Jewish Community Center) and even though they are sold out, there is an in-person wait list before every performance one hour before showtime. This unforgettable musical focuses on the nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, and revolves around American writer Cliff Bradshaw and his relationship with English cabaret performer Sally Bowles.
‘Cabaret’ is set in Berlin in 1930 at the infamous Kit Kat Klub as the Nazis are rising to power. Act One begins with “Willkommen” by the cabaret girls and waiters as the flamboyant and audience favorite Emcee (Rick Sanchez) welcomes the audience to the Kit Kat Klub and invites them to leave their troubles behind and enjoy themselves. He introduces Sally (Amanda Golden), who performs a racy and flirtatious number “Don’t Tell Mama.” At the train station, Cliff Bradshaw (Brian Hodges) is coming to Berlin to work on his novel and while there meets Ernst Ludwig (Kevin Cox), a German officer. He offers Cliff work and recommends a boarding house where Fräulein Schneider (Kimberly Stephenson) makes him a deal to rent him a room “So What?” Soon after the mood starts to change as the rising political turmoil is foreshadowed by Cliff’s reading of ‘Mein Kampf’ and the revelation at Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz’ (Philip Marzec) engagement party that Cliff’s friend Ernst is a member of the Nazi party. On top of it all, Fräulein Kost (Chelsea Steele) and company reprise “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” with more overtly Nazi overtones, as Cliff, Sally, Fräulein Schneider, Herr Schultz and the Emcee look on. Cliff and Sally’s relationship ends, Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz break up due to him being Jewish and the cabaret performers, including the Emcee, become victims to the Nazi atrocities “Willkommen.” It all comes to the shocking conclusion as the Emcee takes off his overcoat to reveal a concentration camp prisoner’s uniform marked with a yellow Star of David and a pink triangle.
The story is a social commentary of the times and eerily relevant to the current political situation. ‘Cabaret’ starts off with decadent celebrations and slowly descends into political upheaval. It follows the blooming relationship between Sally and Cliff but the secondary relationship between landlady Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, the elderly Jewish fruit shop owner, is also important because it depicts the rise of Nazism and its effect on daily life and relationships. Show highlights include the cabaret girls’ “Kick Line” and “If You Could See Her” by Emcee and the Gorilla, that ends with the Emcee’s shocking line “if you could see her through my eyes…she wouldn’t look Jewish at all.” The German officers, in full Nazi uniforms, marching across the stage after “Kick Line” was especially unnerving. All the performances are solid with top nods going to Rick Sanchez for his portrayal of the Emcee. Some of the dancing sequences are risqué and due to the adult themes and language, it is recommended for mature audiences. Overall, the dark subject matter may make it uncomfortable to watch but it is a must see.