“There was a Cabaret and there was a Master Of Ceremonies and there was a city called Berlin in a country called Germany. It was the end of the world…. and I was dancing with Sally Bowles and we were both fast asleep.”
This is the quote that greets the audience of Theater Latté Da and Hennepin Theatre Trust’s production of Cabaret, giving them only a small taste of what is to come: a production full to bursting with playful spirit, creativity, talent, ups, downs, and heartfelt story telling.
The show starts with the Emcee in the balcony, cracking jokes nearly from his first line. He then lowers himself on a rope to the main floor, where cabaret tables are set up for the highest paying audience members. The audience then has the opening number, “Willkommen,” thrown in their faces, a number so full of enthusiastic performances that it leaves them unsure who to watch.
The opening number illustrates how well versed the show’s elements will be. There are performance techniques ranging from burlesque dancing, to a tap duet, to trapeze art. Though dance moves sometimes fall flat in execution, there is no doubt that the performers are all talented– fully embodying their characters, speaking and singing with strong german accents.
There is no doubt that everyone involved in this production jumped on board with both feet. All aspects of the show– the performers, the choreography, the music, the lighting, the costumes, and the set– meld together seamlessly to create a fresh, engaging show.
The mostly-male band goes the extra mile by dressing in full drag. They are placed onstage, elevated to balcony level, periodically shown and hidden by a drop-down screen made to look like warehouse windows.
The set does what every good set should do: provides many levels, and different areas for the story to inhabit, becoming a cabaret, a fruit store, an apartment building, among other settings. It’s doors open and close, but are empty frames, allowing actors to walk straight through them, or even “hide” behind them in plain sight.
The set’s many balconies, ladders and staircases give the Emcee many places from which he is woven throughout the show, overseeing most scenes, and becoming the background as he makes the sound effect for every knock, and waits in the closet to hand out linens, clothes, or suitcases, as if he were the shelves.
The cherry on top of this delicious production was the lighting. Using lights, the entire feel of the show is changed in an instant. The colors of the lights are sometimes perfectly blending with those of the set, and sometimes completely changing them.
The only downside to the show was that it was heavily oriented towards the main floor of the theater. This leaves those in the balcony missing many aspects of the show, such as when the Emcee or Sally Bowles sings in the house, certain lighting aspects, due to the angle at witch they view the stage.
Theatre Latté Da and Hennepin Theater Trust’s Cabaret, though not for the whole family, is worth experiencing.