Theater Latté Da’s production of Cabaret is ready to be added to my list of favorites. It opened on Wednesday night at the intimate Pantages Theatre. The place was wild and bursting with energy, the welcoming number so engaging that the audience was immediately immersed in the show, all problems forgotten.
I had a hard time viewing this show from the point of view of a critic. The show was so engaging that I kept forgetting to watch for technical elements and performers. Instead I was immersed in the story. I got caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fascination I had with the way the story got darker and darker until we knew that this wasn’t a fun show like they had us believe in act one.
Cabaret is a musical set in pre-World War II Berlin. It tells the tale of American novelist Cliff Bradshaw and Sally Bowles, a dancer at the seedy Kit Kat nightclub.
The story was presented by the omnipresent Emcee, a fascinating character played by Tyler Michaels. The Emcee acted as the show’s host, the story’s narrator, and puppetmaster to both the characters and the audience. At times he’d be bright and overwhelmingly cheerful. Other times he’d become dark and sinister. Even from my seat in the balcony, I could see the glint in his eye of “I know something you don’t know.” Not only was Michales a brilliant actor, but he was also a fabulous dancer and acrobat. He moved with grace and interacted with the audience with ease and charm.
The other leads of Cabaret were exceptionally talented. Sally Bowles, played by Kira Lace Hawkins, may not have had a stellar singing voice, but it suited her character perfectly. In each of her songs she delivered strongly so that the audience knew exactly what was going on in her head. Fräuline Schneider, played by Sally Wingert, talk-sang her way through incredibly emotional and touching scenes.
The choreography of the show was phenomenal. Each step was not only good to watch, but had a specific symbolic message tied to the show. It all kept up with the theme the show had of pretending that everything is fine when really behind the scenes something ominous is at work. Particularly in big numbers like “Willkomen” and “Money Money Money,” the dancing gave the audience both a lot to look at and a lot to think about.
Every element of this performance worked together to create the perfect mood for the story which took place in Berlin pre-World War Two. The set was not elaborate but was complete in the sense that the audience completely understood that this was a part of town where people who didn’t have a lot of money came to have a roaring good time. The costumes were what stood out, with the men of the cast often appearing in drag and showing off their rather spectacular legs. Even the orchestra was revealed several times to be wearing flashy sequined dresses, and each member looked like they were having the time of their lives.
The performance had very few technical errors, a few missed spotlight and microphone cues here and there, but each one was so miniscule, especially for the first night of previews, that little was taken away from the show as a whole.
Theater Latté Da’s production of Cabaret gives the audience a chance to laugh and cry through their song and dance. If you’re looking for a grand experience, this show should be next on your list.