Inexpensive show worth small price

Before 8 p.m. Friday night, I was a Cabaret virgin, so to speak. I had never seen it, nor did I even know the plot of the show.

As I walked into the Taylor Little Theatre at Mercyhurst University, I was surprised to see the unique seating arrangement.

The audience sat at tables in the intimate little theatre, so the atmosphere was that of a true nightclub, which was perfect for the nature of the show.

“Cabaret” is set in Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power (around 1930). Most of the focus revolves around Sally Bowles, a popular performer at the Kit Kat Klub, and her relationship with the American writer, Cliff Bradshaw.

The story weaves in various subplots, specifically one between the boarding house owner, Fraulein Schneider, and the fruit stand owner, Herr Schultz.

The show highlights the dramatic changes that occurred in fascist Germany as the Nazi party was growing in power. Interspersed throughout the plot is the Emcee, whose degradation follows the changes in Germany at the time.

The opening number, “Wilkommen,” is done well. The emcee, portrayed by Nam Nguyen, is perfectly creepy and engaging – a persona that is carried throughout the show.

That being said, his character’s accent is inconsistent and seemed to be less and less committed as the show wore on.

In fact, of all of the characters’ accents in the show, only those of Sally Bowles (Sarah Creighton), Fraulein Kost (Claudia Rose Cauchi) and Ernst Ludwig (Jordan Strange) are both expressed well and consistently.

Once Bowles is in the story with “Don’t Tell Mama,” she instantly steals the show.

Creighton is magnificent in vocals, acting and stage presence. She conveys her character’s forwardness and inner conflict beautifully. During the title number of the show, it is easy to become entranced by the depth of her performance.

One bewildering thing about the show had to do with Clifford Bradshaw, played by Maxton Honeychurch.

After hearing the few snippets where he got to sing, I was confused as to why he is not utilized for a role that showed his abilities more.

Regardless of the miscasting, he still does an outstanding job as the American for the short amount of time he is onstage.

And as the show reached its end, there are major problems with staging.

While the finale was powerful, I doubt certain audience members got to see the extent of it with the video due to the choice to have a large sheet in the middle of the stage (necessary to project the video feed, but not well thought out for staging purposes).

When the show ends and the actors exit, the audience is in the quiet lull like there usually is before the curtain comes back up for final bows. But the bows never came and the band quickly exited.

At first, there was confusion and slight awkwardness, but the abrupt ending only enhanced the powerful ending.

Overall, I love the show. This production by the Mercyhurst’s theatre department is wonderful for someone who has never seen “Cabaret” before.

The seating arrangement in the theatre and staging remained true to the atmosphere of an authentic cabaret.

However, I am still left with a feeling that certain casting choices and technicalities would leave one who is fluent in the show with a slightly unsatisfied feeling.

It was well worth the inexpensive $10 ticket.




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