A Club Where Everything Inside Is Beautiful Collides With an Unforgiving World!
Over the weekend, when Chicago got hit with a record of nine consecutive days of snow, most people would just want to stay in, but those that love theater was out in Aurora, IL at the Paramount theatre enjoying the racy nightclub from Berlin.
Cabaret was a 1966 musical set in 1931 Berlin when Nazis were rising to terrorize the world and changing the history of humanity. Based on a John Van Druten's 1951 play I Am a Camera and revised from the short novel Goodbye to Berlin (1939), Cabaret tells the story about a sleazy nightlife called the seedy Kit Kat Klub. A club where straight out of Pittsburg comes a young American who wants to become a writer, where Cliff Bradshaw develops a relationship with an English cabaret performer by the name of Sally Bowles.
Sally who was remarkably played by Kelly Felthous, was a bubbly and delightful singer an idealist, a dreamer looking for fame and fortune; seems oblivious to the world in which she lives in is changing around her. She is a girl who just wants to have fun; life is a party for Sally, unfortunately at the club where she works at the celebration is about to degenerate into a corruption of a civilization that is about to arise.
Cliff, looking to become a writer is seeking out a cheap place to stay; he plans on paying his rent by teaching English when he meets Sally at the club. Unbeknown to Cliff, their strange and interesting relationship is about to begin as Sally performs her final act at The Kitty Kat Club.
But before we continue, we must remember that this performance starts off with an extraordinary rendition by the Master of Ceremonies, played by Joseph Anthony Byrd. Not many will admit to this, but he steals the show. Byrd plays this ghoulish, flamboyant figure that was picture-perfect. He was engaging, delightful and just simply outstanding in his rendition of "I Don't Care Much." This was one of many dropped musical songs that were later brought back in 1987 and Byrd was made to sing it.
Cabaret is very entertaining however there is a profound seeded message about the ominous political developments rising in late Weimar Germany; which seems to be rearing its ugly head even today. Racial hatred and supremacy is the fuel the ruins a beautiful love affair between a lonely German boarding house owner Fräulein Schneider and her elderly suitor Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit vendor.
Caught between love and loyal Fraulein Schneider has to make a decision to survive. Schneider played by Hollis Resnik was one of the many bright stars in this play. Hollis and Ron E. Rains who played Herr Schultz made you believe in love and had the audience rooting for them even though most already knew the outcome.
Music Director Tom Vendafreddo did an excellent job of incorporating the classic songs like "Don't Tell Mama and Mein Herr," ("Telephone Song" was cut in the 1998, 2012, and 2014 revivals, replaced by "Mein Herr"). These songs were included in the play, and the choreography and stage makeup set the right atmosphere to bring the audience into the seductive and heinous allure of the club.
Isherwood's original characters were changed as well. Katie Spelman switched the male lead; he became an American writer who teaches English. The anti-Semitic landlady was transformed into a tolerant woman with a Jewish beau, Herr Schultz, who owned a fruit store; two language students were eliminated, and two loathsome but integral characters prostitute Fräulein Kost, and Nazi Ernst Ludwig were added.
We can honestly say, we weren't sure how the audience received Cabaret. Most left the theater in a quiet somber which possibly had to do more with the weather and snow. There was applause, but mostly there was a calm, serene focus in the air; which I believe happens when you mix love and a hateful history of the past. With love, hate abuse, depressed feelings and a gambit of many emotions that beguiled us for 2 hours & 35 minutes production; one can only wonder. Did you clap? Do you even know when to applause or what to applause or praise? Complexity at its finest is when you have to think about why you reply before react.
We can say that Cabaret, is a show we recommend you braving the winter weather to see.
The cast includes:
Joseph Anthony Byrd (Emcee)
Kelly Felthous (Sally Bowles)
Garrett Lutz (Clifford Bradshaw)
Hollis Resnik (Fraulein Schneider)
Ron E. Rains (Herr Schultz)
Meghan Murphy (Fraulein Kost)
Brandon Springman (Ernst Ludwig)
AURORA'S PARAMOUNT THEATRE PRESENTS
Directed by Katie Spelman
Music Director Tom Vendafreddo
February 7th - March 18th
Looking for a great way to enjoy Chicago? The Lookingglass Theatre is the place! Their new play, Plantation starts February 21st. Tickets are available at https://lookingglasstheatre.org/
Filed under: ChicagoNow