“There was a Cabaret. And there was a Master of Ceremonies. And there was a city called Berlin, in a country called Germany. It was the end of the world.”
Cabaret is still an entertaining and well put together show.
The California Musical Theater Ensemble, featuring performers from colleges around the United States, has brought Kander and Ebb’s 1966 musical Cabaret to Edinburgh for the company’s fifth visit to the Fringe. The musical, immortalised in the film adaptation starring Liza Minnelli, focuses on the political issues that delivered Germany into the hands of the Nazis, through the medium of cabaret. It portrays the relationship between the Kit Kat Klub’s English star Sally Bowles (Tawni Bridenball) and her lover, American novelist Clifford Bradshaw (Alex Jean), along with various people also living in the rooms let by Fräulein Schneider (Alexis Germain).
Kelsey Kato opens the show as the charismatic Emcee, a role which he quickly eases into as opening number Willkommen progresses. The choreography during this number, as with all others, is well executed. Throughout, the direction is good although there’s not really enough of a sense of emotional development in the characters that would have improved the performance tenfold.
The vocalists have beautiful tones to their voices and Bridenball is a sassy yet naïve Sally Bowles. Unfortunately there are audibility issues throughout with all the female cast members and some of the male. Despite the small venue, it was often extremely difficult to hear both dialogue and vocals. However Two Ladies- performed by Kelsey Kato, Cole Wachman and Samantha Wojtaszec-was superb, with high energy levels and excellent comic timing.
Some of the acting was extremely wooden and often Cabaret seemed to have relocated from Berlin to New Jersey, such were the wandering accents. That said, Alexis Germain and Asher Ehrenberg play Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz with charm and left me rooting for their characters.
The simplistic set is effective and moving basic props in order to change scene works very well. Who knew chairs could be so versatile? A screen at the back of the stage that acts as a set of drawers for storage is slightly too small as I could often see actors poking around either side, although it is a clever idea.
Sadly, this was a case of the performers not being up to the standard of the direction; a real shame as the directorial decisions were fantastic. Nevertheless, Cabaret is still an entertaining and well put together show.