Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Cabaret (4 reviews)

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre opened its production of Cabaret on January 10, 2012.
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome! Take your seat for this energetic, politically charged, seductive, and daring Tony-award winning production that is ranked among the greatest American musicals. Featuring a memorable Kander and Ebb score, Cabaret is set amid the decadence of 1929 Weimar Germany’s netherworld and follows the unlikely romance between writer Cliff Bradshaw and performer Sally Bowles.
B.T. McNichol directed a cast that included Christopher Sloan, Kate Shindle, Aaron Bower, Bruce Linser, Fred Rose, Angie Radosh, and John Felix.

John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
Christopher Sloan nears perfection in his portrayal of the Emcee. As lewd as his character may be, there is just enough of an impish twinkle in his eye to make him almost endearing... Kate Shindle is equally well cast as Sally Bowles... Shindle appropriately gives us a Sally that is a hot mess in the end. Her rendition of the title song is not a sequined and spot-lit eleven o'clock number, but a tortured song of self loathing and revelation. As Cliff, Bruce Linser brings a great deal of clarity to a role that is often played as boyish and callow. The thoughtfulness of his acting beats brings needed depth to the character and his observations of what lies ahead for those around him.

Director BT McNicholl has structured many of the scenes and focus changes as cleanly as a camera take in a movie. Five musicians are assisted by nine cast members playing instruments on stage. This nicely reinforces the feel of a nightclub, particularly in the entr'acte at the top of act two. Supporting actress Angie Radosh is compelling as Fraulein Schneider, with some nice moments with John Felix as Herr Schultz; however, he does not fare well vocally. Though it is regrettable that their dancing is not stronger, tattered costumes, harsh makeup, tattoos and track marks help create the tawdry and desperate feel of the Kit Kat Klub girls and the world around them. Very strong performances by Sloan and Shindle, and a solid ensemble make this production of Cabaret the show to see.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
In part because the Maltz Jupiter Theatre has served up such polished and elaborate productions in recent years, it has had a hard time convincing its subscribers that these are not touring shows intended for a larger audience.

That misunderstanding can only increase with its current, otherwise excellent offering... For the theater has chosen to reproduce the revelatory concepts and staging of the 1998 Tony Award-winning revival which upped the decadence, depravity and darkness quotients of the show which looks at the insidious rise of the Third Reich in prewar Berlin.
...director Sam Mendes – whose work is echoed here by BT McNicholl – placed added emphasis on a character called the Emcee (played with a seductive, crotch-grabbing edginess by Christopher Sloan). He insinuates himself into most of the musical numbers, turning the story songs far less conventional and fuzzing the line between onstage and off.
On its literal level, Cabaret is the story of American would-be novelist Cliff Bradshaw (a worthy Bruce Linser), who falls for quirky, politically naive club headliner Sally Bowles (Kate Shindle, 1998′s Miss America). In a parallel doomed romance, Cliff’s landlady Fraulein Schneider (a surprisingly musical Angie Radosh) comes close to marrying Jewish fruit peddler Herr Schultz (an affecting John Felix) until she bows to the rising tide of anti-Semitism.
Shindle handles (the title tune) very effectively, delineating Sally’s emotional breakdown, and she grabs us by the throat with a simple, aching rendition of “Maybe This Time”. She succeeds in the role, even if she is too physically imposing to convince us of Sally’s waifishness.
...the evening belongs to the leering Sloan, who turns “Two Ladies” into a gender-bent romp and who delivers the previously cut ballad “I Don’t Care Much” with a haunting vocal shrug. The ensemble, sporting body bruises and doubling as the show’s orchestra, looks great executing Jennifer Werner’s energetic choreography.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a Carbonell Award-winning company in the northernmost part of South Florida’s sprawling, vibrant tri-county theater scene. Getting there from Miami-Dade or Broward counties involves a mini road trip, for sure. But at the end of that road, through the end of this month, is a reward: a glorious production of Cabaret.
The cast of the Maltz’s Cabaret, a mixture of Broadway, regional theater and South Florida actors, is full of triple- and quadruple-threat performers, people who can act, sing, dance and play instruments. Fred Rose, for example, plays the initially charming Nazi operative Ernst Ludwig and serves as the cellist at the top of the second act. Each of bruised, used-looking Kit Kat Klub boys and girls jumps in and out of the orchestra, the Jennifer Werner-choreographed dance numbers, songs and scenes – impressively so.
Christopher Sloan gets the showiest role in Cabaret, the Emcee... A playful sexual provocateur with a strong voice, Sloan pushes a little too hard at the beginning. But as he slips into a beaded gown to sing the haunting I Don’t Care Much and then reveals more shocking attire in the show’s chilling finale, Sloan’s work becomes devastatingly powerful.
The production’s Sally Bowles is Kate Shindle, the 1998 Miss America who has built an impressively varied career on Broadway, in regional theater, in film and TV. Her opportunistic British ex-pat is no slumming beauty queen; rather, this Sally becomes a belting singer and lost dreamer whose drug use, drinking and moral flaccidness make her both symbol and victim.

As the husky-voiced prostitute FraĆ¼lein Kost, Aaron Bower is transformed into a ruined beauty, and she’s such a dazzling singer that you wish her character were featured more. Bruce Linser is earnest and impassioned as Sally’s sexually malleable beau, American writer Clifford Bradshaw. As the older couple whose late-in-life romance is doomed by the gathering Nazi storm, Angie Radosh as FraĆ¼lein Schneider and John Felix as the Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz are exquisitely sweet and ultimately heartbreaking.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
With its new edgy production of Cabaret, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre takes an often thrilling left turn into adult, thought-provoking theater that this home of mainstream crowd-pleasers rarely attempts.

It’s resonances are deafening.
This near-clone of the Roundabout Theatre’s 1998 revisionist revival – the Sam Mendes/Rob Marshall vision of a sleazy Hell on Earth with nipple rings – is among the finest work this company has yet produced.

The Maltz edition, directed by Mendes’ associate BT McNicholl and starring actors who have played the leads for Mendes, answers not just how Hitler could come to power but how it could happen again. Here. Today.
...perhaps the finest moment in the show is the title song delivered by a collaboration among McNicholl, musical director Alexander Rovang and Kate Shindle as the party girl Sally Bowles... Shindle and company nail the song as it has never been nailed before in this critic’s hearing, even the fine rendition by you-know-who in the film version. This Sally sings the oft-perverted lyrics as she struggles in shame at the inescapable knowledge of her failing, weaknesses that she still enables even when she knows they will provide fatal. Trembling physically and vocally, she clips the notes rather than hold them.
Although McNicholl has intentionally copied – and credited – the Mendes/Marshall version, he has deftly and smoothly helmed this iteration with the new contributions necessitated by new cast members, producers and creative team. But his experience directing it at least four times around the world pays off in an assured in-depth knowledge of the material and how to put it across to an audience.

He has not allowed anyone in the cast to echo even a shred of imitation of Liza and Joel, or Natasha and Alan, or anyone else. These are original and unique creations.
Christopher Sloan... is a sensation from the moment his Emcee strides to center stage with a grin that revels in crass and crude libidinous anarchy.
John Felix, a South Florida favorite, can barely sing his part as the nebbishy Jewish grocer who courts Cliff’s middle-aged landlady. But (original director Hal) Prince’s choice, Jack Gilford, couldn’t sing either. Felix solidly land the character by injecting Herr Schultz with the essential goodness of the man and a likeability that makes us fear for his future, especially when he fails to see that that Nazism is fatal because he sees himself as a German as well as a Jew.
Aaron Bower is a wonderfully desiccated and dissipated prostitute, Fraulein Kost... A Florida actress who reputedly doesn’t read music, she taught herself to play the accordion for the role.
...last but not least is the glorious Angie Radosh as Fraulein Schneider. Besides having a wonderful world-weary singing voice far stronger than Lotte Lenya’s original... Radosh’s portrait makes clear how “good Germans” enabled Hitler and the Holocaust.
Cabaret is a welcome watershed in which the Maltz is saying, to heck with it, we’re going to do an adult show with adult themes that make you think. Bravo.
Cabaret plays that the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through January 29, 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment