The 1966 musical Cabaret is based on Christopher Isherwood's semi-autobiographical novel about Berlin in the early 1930s. Much of the action is set in a cabaret called the Kit Kat Klub, a mecca of art, creativity, music, love, sexuality, expression, joy, and life, at a time just before the beautiful city of Berlin entered the darkest period in its history, which resulted in the death of all of these things. This world is seen through the eyes of an American writer named Cliff, who moves to Berlin to work on his novel. He soon meets Sally Bowles, the star of the Kit Kat Klub, and begins a complicated relationship with her. He also befriends his landlord Fräulein Schneider and the other residents of the boarding house. They're happy for a while living in the decadence of the time, until reality comes crashing down around them. As Cliff says, "It was the end of the world, and I was dancing with Sally Bowles and we were both asleep."*
|the Kit Kat Klub (photo by Dan Norman)
|Prudence Johnson as Sally Bowles (photo by Dan Norman)
|Rik Kutcher as the Emcee (photo by Dan Norman)
The large cast fills the Mixed Blood stage, but doesn't feel crowded. LaTia Childers has choregraphed some great dance numbers that are doable for all abilities, and still fun to watch. The beautiful six-piece orchestra, directed by Shirley Mier on keys, is center stage, in costume, and very much a part of the show. Characters are dressed in shabby glam sexy costumes (designed by Alicia Vegell), and these actors wear them well, proving there's no limit to what you can wear at any age if you believe it.
As my friend Kendra said after the show - when will this show not be relevant? The rise of a cruel dictator due to intolerance, hate, fear, and indifference is apparently a lesson we need to learn over and over again. Sally chillingly says, "It's just politics - what does that have to do with us?" Cabaret shows us (as does recent experience) that politics has everything to do with us, and our daily lives and how we're able to live them. Theatre 55's show ends with some advice from our wise elders (whom we would be wise to listen to), about making our voices heard and standing up for what we believe in. An important message, delivered in a fun, beautiful, entertaining package.