Skip to main content
Lasque Tiarc

Broadway’s new “Cabaret” tries to be a weird, dystopian party

Vaseline 2 months ago

NEW YORK — “Mamma Mia! The Party”, which you can see in London, is one thing. John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff’s masterpiece, especially as anchored on Broadway in a searing and unforgettable 1998 revival starring Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming, is a different story altogether. ‘Cabaret’ is not an expensive bacchanal; it’s Broadway’s greatest cautionary tale about the dangers of letting one party surrender to a fascist takeover.

So go ahead and convince a crowd to arrive an hour early so they can have Moët & Chandon and $29 cocktails at multiple new bars, lead them down an alley and lower the lights so they don’t have an idea where they are in the maze. of an unrecognizable August Wilson Theater. Invite them on stage to dance with the Nazi sympathizers of the Kit Kat Club. And then go ahead and do ‘Cabaret’, with lots of people half soaked or ready for a nap.

Some people who should have known better have let the so-called interactive craze go to their heads. ‘Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club?’ As if that great title needed five more words.

None of this would arguably matter if the production within this naked attempt to provide a value-added experience to increase sales was worth watching. Unfortunately, outside of Bebe Neuwirth and Steven Skybell’s Fraulein Schneider and Herr Shultz, that’s not the case.

Here you have one of the sexiest shows ever written, strangely afraid of eroticism because it’s about actual vulnerability.

Instead of a silky-smooth seduction ready to pounce on an unsuspecting audience, this dystopian production runs straight into a fatal flaw: if the Kit Kat Club were wiped out, wasted and so far removed from everyday Berlin, none of them would the Nazis go. But they did. We keep an eye on them.

Eddie Redmayne, the presenter of this hapless bastard and an actor of enormous talent, comes across here as a creepy human jack-in-the-box, emerging from the floor and twisting his body and voice into all kinds of bizarre contours, but never really being able to say “good evening” like a recognizable guy. One wanted to shout from the seats: just say those lines, Eddie, they’re really good as they are, without all those extras.

Gayle Rankin is as dystopian a Sally Bowles as you’ve ever seen, but where the greats in this role, like Richardson or Liza Minnelli, were all about the tensions inherent in this posh girl from Mayfair, Rankin does just one, screeching , messy… thing on. You understand what she’s doing in the first few seconds and it never changes as events certainly dictate. She is certainly very dedicated, but there is no palpable moment of sweetness, friendliness, nervousness or other qualities that certainly explain why Sally became the star attraction of this club, especially since there is nothing at all attractive about this vocal performance.

The character Clifford Bradshaw would be yet another bundle of contradictions: seemingly a dull and disinterested writer, but with an emerging inner life, both sensual and political. Here Ato Blankson-Wood is so bland he looks like Mr. Cellophane from another musical. Only Neuwirth and Skybell understand their roles; they are very beautiful and offer the only moments of honesty and emotional involvement.

You can look at all this differently. But I have to say that it offends me to sell a dinner “upgrade” to the “Pineapple Room”. That fruit is what Herr Schultz offers his lover before he is shipped off to a concentration camp, the show strongly implies, since he is already in the Nazis’ crosshairs. In this show, fruit is a symbol of generosity and love in a world full of horrors. It is not a taste of an expensive cocktail, nor a high-end status symbol. How dirty.

At the August Wilson Theater, 245 W. 52nd St., New York;

Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.

[email protected]