‘Cabaret’ at the Fox Theatre
This Roundabout Theatre Company production is not your grandmother’s “Cabaret” or even your mother’s. The script and songs have slightly changed from the original production I saw back in the late 1960s and from the 1972 movie starring Liza Minnelli. I’m open to things new if they send me, but not much of this show sent me or my companion.
The show opens in 1929 at the Kit Kat Klub in Berlin with seedy dancers and a gay emcee dressed in provocative campy clothing. No fancy tux like the emcee (Joel Gray) wore in the movie, but I’m totally up for this risque style. It’s fresh, but this emcee (Randy Harrison) talks at the audience rather than to it, and sometimes he’s not even audible. (He improved in the second act.) The feature Kit Kat Klub singer and dancer, Sally Bowles (played by Liza Minelli in the movie version and played by Alison Ewing on opening night) was weak. I wanted to care about Sally and to root for her, but as they say in “A Chorus Line,” “but I felt nothing.” According to the playbill, Sally is normally played by Andrea Goss, which could change the feel of the show. However, this weak characterization of Sally could be a director’s choice, in which case, things might not improve no matter who plays Sally. What should have been the highlight of the show was the title track, which traditionally Sally spews forth from her heart, determined to pick up the pieces of her life and move ahead, was wimpy. “And I felt nothing.”
Sally’s love interest, Cliff (Benjamin Eakeley), also left me without any feeling for him. My companion and I both agreed the best cast member who made us feel the most was the owner of the boarding house Fräulein Schneider (Mary Gordon Murray). Although the actors didn’t wow me, the choreography did.
The most electric moment in the show – and this was electrifying and horrifying – was the final moment before the show ended. It was brilliant and heart-wrenching. I only wish more in this production had touched me so much.
Book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, directed by BT McNicholl, originally directed by Sam Mendes, “Cabaret” runs through Nov. 6 at the Fox Theatre .