Theater Latté Da’s “Cabaret” at the Pantages Theatre: WILLKOMMEN

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Cabaret has left me very confused. It left me with my jaw dropped and my nail beds thoroughly bitten. It left me humming “Springtime for Hitler,” from The Producers. It left me needing to consume as much literature related to the musical, the movie, the symbolism, past productions. But mostly, I was just confused. 

That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself. I had a great time seeing it, and think it was a very well done production.

But I’m just so confused. I’m confused because of the emcee. I’m confused because I can’t tell if the Kit Kat Klub is real or just symbolic. Because it should be real, the wonderful Sally Bowles (Kira Lace Hawkins) works there. Cliff Bradshaw (Sean Dooley) wouldn’t have been beaten up if Max (James Rodriguez) didn’t exist. But the ethereal emcee seems to be sort of imaginary.

The Master of Ceremonies (Tyler Michaels) controls the story. The character can be interpreted in many ways. He can be a metaphorical Hitler, he can be the man in love with a Jewish woman, he can be a gay character. The emcee is a lot of different people. Tyler Michaels interpreted the emcee in such a way that left me breathless, but also very, very confused. Is his emcee Hitler, always looming over the rest of the action, controlling which props and set pieces are used, controlling the interactions between everyone else, commenting on the actions in the real world with the performances at the Kit Kat Klub? Is his dance with the woman in the ape costume, is he seeing her as a monkey too, or is it just us? Is his character seeing her as an ape as well, ready to condemn her? Or is he gay? Bisexual, like Cliff? Would he be represented by a pink triangle during WWII?

I have a lot of questions, and many of them go unanswered. I don’t know how I can possibly process my feelings about the production without knowing them, but I will try.

I think this show was impeccably performed. The singers and dancers were well timed, and put on a show that is genuinely interesting and fun to watch. The choreography was beautifully symbolic, with swastika-esque dance moves interwoven with the fun and sexy cabaret performances. The romances were well played and believable. 

I highly recommend Cabaret, especially if you can see it and answer some of my questions. Tickets are available online at hennepintheatertrust.org, in person at the state theater box office, and by calling 1.800.982.2787