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June 18, 2008 > Theater Review: Life is a Cabaret

Theater Review: Life is a Cabaret

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

As it concludes its 2007-2008 season, Stage 1 Theater presents a successful production of Cabaret (a Tony-award winning musical). Set during the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany, Cabaret is the story of an idealistic young American who, having traveled all over Europe to find the perfect place to write his novel, finally finds himself in Berlin. On his way there, Cliff Bradshaw is befriended by Ernst Ludwig, an exuberant German eager to learn English who recommends a local boarding house.

Though hesitant to indulge in the decadence of German nightlife, Cliff's "writer's block" eventually compels him to venture out of his room and into the Kit Kat Club where he meets Sally Bowles, the cabaret's hedonistic headliner. And of course, there's the club's colorful and ubiquitous Emcee (a.k.a., Master of Ceremonies) who serves as a symbolic representation of tumultuous Germany. Cliff also becomes acquainted with his proprietor, FrŠulein Schneider and her elderly suitor, Herr Schultz (a Jewish fruit vendor), whose doomed romance rouses Cliff to acknowledge the Nazis' growing influence and inevitable rise to power.

Once again, Stage 1 has assembled an outstanding cast. In the role of Clifford Bradshaw, David Irving evokes sympathy and deftly conveys the transformation of Cliff's idealism. Danielle Blanchet is enchanting as Sally. With a resonating and crisp voice, she is impressive in her first leading role and captivating as she belts out the show's signature number, "Cabaret." Patrick Sanchez delivers a strong performance; flamboyant and funny as the ubiquitous Emcee. Scott Hall lends his booming voice and convincing stage presence to his portrayal of Ernst Ludwig. Mary Gimeno and Larry Raboy are endearing as the elderly couple, FrŠulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. Their sincere and touching performances undeniably conveyed their characters' heartbreaking plight.

Originally produced in 1966, Cabaret has since been revived twice. Though the 1998 Broadway revival is significantly raunchier and more risquŽ compared to the original, the moral message is still quite intact. "Cabaret is not only a look to the past," Stage 1 director Christina Lazo stated, "but it also makes us question the present and the future. Could something like this happen again? Are we aware enough to see the seeds of hatred and stop its growth?" Indeed, what Lazo and the show's talented cast and crew have accomplished is a triumphantly thought-provoking "cabaret."

Cabaret
Through June 28
Friday and Saturday: 8 p.m.
Sunday: 2:30 p.m.
Stage 1 Theatre
(Newark Memorial High School)
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 791-0287
www.stage1theatre.org

General Admission: $22
Advance Purchase & Seniors: $20
High School Students (with ID) and younger: $10

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