Thursday, September 15, 2016

reviews - CABARET - National Tour: ASU Gammage

Randy Harrison and the ensemble
photo: Joan Marcus
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through September 18th.

"...once the sound of a snare drum swells to a loud roll, the cymbal crashes and our Master of Ceremonies, the Emcee (Randy Harrison) slithers on stage with all the musical flamboyance of a perverse ghoul, he draws us in. ...this current and thrilling Roundabout Theatre Company tour...
The strength of the production is the presentation of the songs, whether they’re the large, ensemble numbers like the excitingly staged introductory Wilkommen, or the solos such as Fraulin Schneider’s powerful So What (an outstanding Mary Gordon Murray) and the title number, Cabaret...When Andrea Goss’ heartbreaking rendition of the title song concludes with the declaration that ‘Life is a cabaret,’ it’s delivered with guttural irony and bitterness....While the musical numbers could be heard without issue, the dialog between characters in the first act was often difficult to comprehend, often rendering some of the lengthier exchanges between Sally and Cliff as mumbles...the audio of the second act was noticeably improved....From what we witness in the effective, concluding moments, those who remained in Berlin at the nightclub – Jews and other ‘undesirables’ – were in for a terrifying future. The nightclub’s orders to leave your troubles outside would no longer apply as those monsters on the outside with the wooden clubs and swastikas reached in and grabbed. At the fade out you’re reduced to a stunning, unexpected silence before the cast return to take their bow. If you only saw the original 60s production or all you’ve known is the more popular 70s movie, then this Cabaret is not how you’ll remember it, but once you’ve seen the revised Roundabout Theatre Company production, you’ll no longer forget it... Cabaret, as presented in this production, is Sally Bowles’ nightmare; one from which she’ll never awake. " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Fifty years ago the musical Cabaret took Broadway by storm...In the late 1990s Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall took this classic show, rethought it, and turned it into a gritty and raw explosion, full of atmospheric elements, a scantily clad cast, and sensational images that ratchet up the shock factor to tell the story of the citizens of Berlin in the early 1930s facing the rise of Hitler while some of them were too busy partying and making a "cabaret" out of life to notice. ...a national tour is now bringing the gritty decadence of Berlin to seduce audiences across the US. While this may not be a show for those who lean more toward G-rated fare like The Sound of Music or My Fair Lady, it has a cautionary lesson, and with excellent creative elements and an inspired performance by Randy Harrison as the Emcee, it is extremely potent....This updated version adds some songs written for the 1972 film and more fully incorporates the Emcee into the action of the show to help comment and better focus the atrocities that await the characters. It stunningly shows how the horrors that are about to come, and the desperation of the era, culminate in people being unable to comprehend the consequence of just what Hitler's power will have on Germany and ultimately the whole world....
Randy Harrison is playful, mischievous and incredibly fearless as the Emcee. He commands the stage, draws your attention, and pulls you in like a moth to a flame. ...his final scene in the show packs a wallop. Andrea Goss is equally as good as Sally. Her fast-paced line delivery, while a bit difficult to make out occasionally due to her effective, though thick, English accent, works well to show the excitable nature of the character. ...Her vocal abilities are stellar, with her delivery of the title song growing from the unsteady, uncertain status that Sally has at that point in the show into a powerful roar as she realizes the decision she must make....This production has a stellar cast and superb direction and creative elements yet it is gritty and raw as it drives home the relevance of the horrors of Nazism, so it may not be for everyone. It is dark, raunchy and shocking, yet has an immediacy in the emotions of the story and how identifiable the situations and circumstances of the characters are and the horrors that await them. "Politics? What does that have to do with us?" is one of Sally's classic lines from the show. It perfectly shows the carefree, complacent attitude that she and so many others had at the time in not believing Hitler's ideas would have any impact on them. So they just go on, continuing to live their lives like a cabaret...the messages it tells are still exceptionally relevant and should serve as a cautionary tale we hope will never be repeated. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"The Roundabout Theatre “Cabaret” revival opens the new ASU Gammage Broadway season.  The production’s raison d’etre was star Alan Cummings’ different slant on the Emcee who escorts audiences through a decadent look at corrupt and bigoted pre-Nazi Germany.  Since Cummings isn’t touring, Randy Harrison tries to duplicate the Broadway star’s interpretation but Harrison lacks Cummings’ sexy spark and sleazy style....Especially disappointing is Andrea Goss’ lackluster Sally. ...Benjamin Eakeley’s fine as is the Jewish fruit seller, Herr Schultz, played sincerely by Scott Robertson.  Mary Gordon Murray is a touching Fraulein Schneider. Sam Mendes original staging is blandly recreated and the show’s pokey pacing makes it drag.  Even the drab set looks cheap."  --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"If you only know “Cabaret” from the superlative movie version directed by Bob Fosse, then the touring revival running this week at ASU Gammage is a must-see....the dark heart of the musical remains the same on stage or screen....Holding court at the cabaret is a carnivalesque emcee who provides biting satire on Germany’s troubled times...Randy Harrison...with the help from some masterful makeup work — from glib and glitzy into a figure that’s almost ghoulish. Harrison’s rendition of “I Don’t Care Much,” performed in garish drag, is mesmerizing and haunting....Double that for (Andrea) Goss’ (literal) mike drop on the title tune...seen now at a time when politics are taking another ugly turn on both sides of the Atlantic — as vital and disturbing as ever." Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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