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Cabaret marches to sold-out run in Vernon

REVIEW: Writer fully enraptured with Big Apple Production of classic musical at Powerhouse Theatre
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Theatre-goers are transported back in time to Berlin and the bawdy Kit Kat Kat Club during Big Apple Productions’ now sold-out run of Cabaret at Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre. (Barry Goodsell - Kiss The Monkey Photography)

BY GRACE COHEN

FOR THE MORNING STAR

“There was a cabaret, and there was a master of ceremonies, and there was a city called Berlin, in a country called Germany and it was the end of the world.”

This Big Apple Production of Cabaret is a superb adaptation of one of the great Broadway musicals of all time – an exhilarating and acutely harrowing masterpiece. The Kit Kat Club is a carnival of debauchery and despair and serves as a metaphor for ominous political developments.

Producer and musical director Melina Schein, and director Neal Facey, really understand this production and what they want to give to the audience. Together, they present an intelligent but superbly entertaining piece which presents the story in a way in which the audience is completely engaged and the links they have created between the Kit Kat Club and 1931 Germany is astonishing.

Brian Martin is the soul of the show. His naughty, biting performance redefines the role of the Klub’s Emcee and endows the character with his sense of mischief and urgency that will leave you riveted, from the moment he introduces a deliciously bawdy “Willkommen” to his final, chilling adieu.

Amelia Sirianni, as Sally Bowles, is convincingly lost, a wanna-be bad girl who sings at the Klub, leading the Kit Kat girls and boys in nightclub production numbers like Don’t Tell Mama and Mein Herr. Sirianni plays both scared and daffy superbly and sings with real heart. And for her climactic performance of the show’s title song, she has the belly vocal power and shell-shocked stare of someone who’s seen the future and knows that it’s terrifying.

Craig Howard is appealing as Sally’s unlikely lover, Clifford Bradshaw, a simple American “Yankee Doodle” who aspires to be a writer. Howard adds so much to the story and is an outstanding leading man.

A most endearing plot line is the love story between Fraulein Schneider (Julie Armitage) as the landlady and Herr Schultz (Gil Wright), as her Jewish suitor. Their performances are forceful and touching, and Brittany Wright is vividly bawdy as Fräulein Kost, a whore with a heart of stone. She sings the show’s arguably most chilling number at the end of Act 1 with near religious zeal.

Peter Byrnes, who plays Ernst Ludwig, also does a brilliant and chilling acting job in his portrayal of a manipulative German politician. Finally, the show would not be complete without the Kit Kat Girls and Boys setting the fun-loving scene of the Klub.

The positioning of the band above the stage is a brilliant piece of set design and the perfectly coordinated lighting throughout the show creates a dazzling effect that sets the mood of every scene.

Supporting the cast is a group of incredible musicians led by music director Schein, who brings a red-hot jazz sound to the show.

Choreographer Olivia Grace puts her infamous dancers through their seductive and ribald paces. They glide along the stage with glazed abandonment, resplendent in their scanties. Costume designer Shala Adams’ flattering, intricate, and perfectly tailored lingerie should be available to the masses.

Cabaret runs at Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre until June 17. The remaining shows are sold out.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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