Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reviews from Elsewhere: Cabaret, MacTheatre, McCallum Fine Arts Academy, February 23 - March 4, reviewed by David Glen Robinson

Review published by David Glen Robinson at the Tutto Theatre blog, March 8:

Cabaret, McCallum Fine Arts Academy

Macademy produced Kander and Ebb’s renowned Cabaret in their new arts center and made of it a giant party, a song festival, a design exhibition and homage to the powerful artists who staged this show in the past.

Perhaps the essential stroke of genius in this play is Kander and Ebb’s setting of it in Berlin, 1931/1932, drawn from Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories. The potential themes on which a production could touch in “Cabaret” range from libertinism, to sexual and religious liberation/oppression to the rise of fascism. Touching on too many of them, depending on one’s resources, can give a production of Cabaret the feeling of a play at war with itself (What are you, Cabaret? Are you a historical romance, an anthology piece on club life, a musical revue, a screed on Nazis or all of these?)

The Royale Court Players [of McCallum Fine Arts Academy] in their youthful enthusiasm succumbed to the play’s temptations and tried a little too much, giving us a two hour and forty minute show with one 15-minute intermission. The attempt, however, was laudable, verging on glorious. At the end, the audience was happy and cheering as it rushed out to the restrooms.

The show was well designed from top to bottom, and primary credit for its success starts with directors Courtney Wissinger and M. Scott Tatum. All of the design elements seemed well coordinated. [. . .]

The action of the play roared across this set. The story of the Kit-Kat Club on New Year’s Eve 1931 and into 1932 is familiar to theatre- and movie-goers alike. The story dances through its many themes, all in lace and feathers, and easily escapes becoming merely the story of the romance between club singer Sally Bowles, played by Annamarie Kasper, and American writer Clifford Bradshaw, played by Connor Barr.

The dynamo of the show is actually the Master of Ceremonies, played by John James Busa in the role immortalized by Joel Grey. Director Wissinger and Mr. Busa addressed the high standard and dominating image of Grey’s characterization wisely by seeking another dynamic. Their efforts were successful. Busa’s Master of Ceremonies combined the punk and goth esthetics, with a flavor of the vampiric. Busa’s Master of Ceremonies was snide, dominating, darkly threatening, seductive and sarcastic. In the end, too, he was tragic and suffering. He borrowed nothing from and owed nothing to Joel Grey. Delightful work, Mr. Busa.

[image: MacTheatre, McCallum Fine Arts Academy]

Read more at the Tutto Theatre blog . . . .

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