A Stage Review of “Cabaret”

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By Dee Jae Cox

“What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play
Life is a cabaret, old chum
Come to the cabaret”

— Cabaret The Musical

Once those lyrics are dancing in your head it’s near impossible to get them out.  And that seems to hold true for the entire show, Cabaret, now in production at the Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs.  Cabaret is a 1966 Tony Award winning musical, written by Christopher Isherwood, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.  It’s based on John Van Druten’s 1951 play I am a Camera, which was originally adapted from the 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood.  With a long history of stage productions and even an academy award winning film adaptation made in 1972, Cabaret is without doubt one of the best shows to ever sing and dance across any stage and the Palm Canyon Theatre has gone above and beyond doing justice to this timeless classic.

Cabaret is set in 1931 Berlin.  At opening you are pulled in to the dark and seedy world of the Kit Kat Klub, hosted by the Emcee, a tawdry, flamboyant character, superbly performed by Michael Hadley.  Hadley is captivating in this role that has no doubt been performed by others, but none with more appeal.  The music, the playful songs and sexual innuendos all mask the dark history that is brewing just beneath the surface, the rise of the Nazi party.  The story revolves around a young English cabaret performer named Sally Bowles, beautifully performed by Allegra Angelo. Angelo captures the essence of Bowles, who is a suck the marrow from the bone kind of person, and likes to live life to its fullest extent.

Sally meets up with a newly arrived American writer by the name of Cliff Bradshaw, wonderfully performed by Stephen Milligan, and both of their lives seem changed in the midst of the darkness that is approaching.  Love denied, love gone wrong and love that dare not speak its name, all come together to create an evening of laughter and tragedy.  And like a train speeding off of its track, you wont be able to take your eyes off of this show. Every character has significance and intent.  All presented with great talent and purpose.

Suzie Thomas Wourms as Frauline Schneider and Tom Warrick as Herr Schultz are not the typical star-crossed lovers, yet pull at the heartstrings just the same.  Morgana Corelli as Fraulein Kost was exceptional, Allan Jensen as Herr Ludwig and Steve Meyers as the Kit Kat Klub owner round out this wonderful cast.

Jacqueline LeBlanc’s choreography is most certainly the highlight of this production.  The chorus of dancers/singers are brilliant and beautiful, who flawlessly execute every dance step, weaving together the poignancy of the story.  Andrea Bellato as Rosie, Jana Giboney, as Helga, Hanna McCall as Lulu, Courtney Ohnstad as Frenchie, Jake Samples as Bobby, Kyli Tapia as Texas and Jacqueline LeBlanc herself as Fritzie, gave life to the music with their impecible dancing and heartfelt humor.

Shafik Wahhab’s direction creatively brings together a script and cast that will remind you of why theater has not only survived, but thrived for two thousand years.  Even if you have seen an incarnation of Cabaret, this is a production that you won’t want to miss.  So come hear the music play old chum

Cabaret, is not a show for the kids, but I can’t imagine an adult of any age who wouldn’t have a good time.

 Cabaret”, is currently in production through May 22nd, at the Palm Canyon Theatre, located at 538 North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.

For Reservations: Box Office: 760.323.5123  – www.palmcanyontheatre.org

Dee Jae Cox, is a playwright, director and producer.  She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project and the host of  the hit radio show, “California Woman 411.”