Leave your troubles outside!
So life is disappointing?
I get it.
We have no troubles here.
Here life is beautiful.
The girls are beautiful.
Even the orchestra is beautiful.
Musical theatre has always been a means to escape the reality of life. The costumes, the songs, the dancers, the feel good love stories, the protagonist heroes and larger than life sets, it all takes me away to a fantastic place for a few hours.
A setting in Berlin alone should be enough foreshadowing that this book is not your usual escape from reality musical production. Although I saw the revival on Broadway back in the 80s and even met Joel Grey (I have an autograph to prove it somewhere in my parents’ house.) and always considered Maybe this Time as one of my own anthems, I didn’t remember the dark, horrifying undertones of the original production.
Having just returned from the Women’s March on Washington and having received mixed signals ranging from support to disapproval from family members and friends, my emotions were a little unbalanced to be perfectly honest. I was ready for some musical theater escape at the Straz.
Instead, as I watched this dark seedy revival unfold before my eyes, I plummeted deep into a more depressive state. Given the heated political climate in today’s world – the hate and fascism on the front, I became very afraid. Be it fiction or a stark reminder of history, I watched in horror with my emotions in my throat before even knowing the poignant altered ending of the revival.
“It will all work out. It’s only politics. What does that got to do with us?”
Maybe it’s the theme of the Women’s March still pumping through my veins or the absolute divisive inauguration speech given by our new president, but Cabaret spoke to me and not in a feel good kind of way.
As the final scene unfolded, the audience collectively gasped and sobbed. That highly disturbing scene reminded us that 85 years later, we still have to deal nationalist ideologies, face fascist uprisings, fear and hate. We have learned NOTHING from history and the millions of lives lost during the holocaust.
Politics aside, the national tour of Cabaret, adds its own flavor to the revival which I learned upon writing this review. With a quick YouTube search, I found Alan Cummings’ award-winning performance and watched a much more tamer version than the Roundabout Theater Company’s National Tour at the Straz. Let’s just say the tour’s interpretation is electrifying.
As for the Roundabout Theater Company Touring Company and following in the footsteps of Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, Alan Cumming, the cast has successfully met and raised the bar. Randy Harrison (Emcee) certainly steals the spotlight from his predecessors.
In fact, each cast member breathes new life into the Cabaret ensemble of characters. Recognizing that each story is as important as the next, their talent validates with each ballad and their incredible range of talent, tone and pitch. In the opening number, we’re reminded how cold it is outside and hot it is inside. It is the cast that makes this Cabaret HOT.