Maryland performances including Theater, plays, ballet and opera
- Published on Sunday, 23 September 2012 10:34
- Written by Valerie Dunn
A snare drum rolls and a finger peaks out from behind a curtain, beckoning the audience to come hither. Onto the stage struts a scantily clad Emcee, ready to lead his audience wherever they desire. His is the pursuit of pleasure, and he gladly welcomes the eager audience to the Kit Kat Klub assuring, "Here we have no troubles. Here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful!"
Thus begins "Cabaret," a sensual look at life in 1929 Berlin.
When budding author Clifford Bradshaw travels to Germany in the hopes of writing his second novel, he meets an abundance of characters who will forever change his life and the story he hopes to tell. While on the train to Berlin, Clifford befriends Ernst Ludwig, a man as German as his name. Ernst leads Clifford into the Kit Kat Klub, where Clifford is startled and eventually enchanted by the uninhibited lifestyles which greet him.
The quaint atmosphere of Church Hill Theatre provides an intimate setting for the happenings of the Kit Kat Klub, and the audience is more a part of the show because of their proximity. "Cabaret" at Church Hill is community theatre at its best—a collaboration of youth and experience that achieves surprising sensuality.
There is no better example of this than the affair between Clifford and Kit Kat Klub star Sally Bowles. Jacob Mueller, playing Clifford Bradshaw, continues his senior year at Easton High School. Katherine Cox, playing Sally Bowles, graduated from Washington College. Yet the couple presents a believable and consequential passion. As the spectacular Emcee, Richard Vitanovec observes this romance—and all other romances for that matter—with unparalleled delight.
The supporting cast similarly resonates with enthusiasm for character and cultural climate. As Ernst Ludwig, Patrick Fee fills the stage with a presence that is both the best and worst of Germany. Kathy Jones similarly embodies the spirit of Berlin as Fraulein Schneider. Schneider's affection for Jewish fruit-seller Herr Shultz is answered with a lovable performance by Herb Ziegler.
Of course, the political undercurrents of 1929 Germany inevitably surface. In fact, it is Herr Shultz's intended marriage to Fraulein Schneider that sets the drama in motion at the end of act one. When swastikas join the scene of otherwise sumptuous costumes, the second act of "Cabaret" adopts a much more somber tone than the gaiety of the first act. The threat of the Nazi regime discolors the decadence of the Kit Kat Klub and requires the characters to question their priorities. Yet even as it crumbles, the frivolity of the cabaret clings to its charm.
"It's so tacky and terrible and everyone's having a great time!" Bradshaw exclaims, pinpointing the allure of not only Berlin but "Cabaret" itself.
Full to bursting with dancing girls, forbidden love, and struggling artists "Cabaret" captures a world teetering precariously toward destruction, all the while encouraging its audience to forgo troubles for desire.
"Cabaret" runs through October 7, 2012 (Fri. and Sun. only), at Church Hill Theatre in Church Hill, Md. For tickets call the box office at 410-758-1331.
Valerie Dunn is an English and drama double major at Washington College, Chestertown. In addition to writing reviews for the college's newspaper, Valerie is spokesperson for the Writer's Union and assistant artistic director of the Independent Playhouse. She enjoys tea and grammar.