Review submitted by Alayna Lee of Chantilly High School.
There was a cabaret, and there was a master of ceremonies … and there was a city called Berlin, in a country called Germany … and it was the end of the world.
This dire background is the setting for St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s production of “Cabaret,” a musical based on John Van Druten’s 1951 play “I Am a Camera.” Although made famous by the 1972 film version, it has had numerous Broadway revivals since its original production in 1966. Set in Berlin in 1931 just as the Nazi party is beginning to rise to power, the plot revolves around the relationship between a young American writer, Cliff Bradshaw, and the cabaret performer Sally Bowles. As political strife becomes more pronounced in a budding Nazi Germany, the Kit Kat Club, where much of the action occurs, becomes increasingly affected by the ominous political developments.
Life is a cabaret, old chum. That is Sally Bowle’s mantra in life, and it is illustrated beautifully by Ashley Webb’s portrayal of the beguiling British singer. With constantly swaying hips, a mischievous glint to the eye, and a bewitching voice, Webb’s performance of Bowles stunned the audience. Cabaret, as a show full of sexual and political intrigue, requires intense energy and effort, and Webb continually demonstrated that she could fulfill and outdo any expectations. Near the show’s end, she cast a shadow on the play with a chilling confession of her character’s abortion. Webb’s unique vulnerability brought a duality in the character previously unseen in any of the actors onstage, and let loose the desperation felt by Bowles in the song “Cabaret” for a simpler, carefree life. Arms stretched and eyes gazed towards the future, her voice rang crystal clear to the audience as she once again concluded that life is a cabaret, old chum.
Also standing out was the Emcee, played by Justin Harmon. Overseeing the entirety of the actions, Harmon brought an entertaining flamboyance to the production that added life to an ensemble lacking in energy. By literally flipping and sliding onstage, Harmon charmed the audience with his vivacious and bold choices. Fraulein Schneider as well, performed by Anna Fiscarelli-Mintz, gained the audience’s attention with her poignant portrayal of an old woman torn between the possibility of love and the guarantee of a safe future. Although the interaction between love interests during this show often lacked intimacy, Schneider’s relationship with Herr Schultz was authentic in its gentle affection.
The minute details in the set and props of St. Andrew’s production added a unique appeal. Through textured paintings on walls and genuine period telephones featured on every table, each scene was complimented by a realistic tone that helped distract from issues with sound and mics. Also impressive, were the dual capabilities of the show band of the cabaret. Although just one instrument is already difficult, several members of the band played two and switched between them during the performance.
There was a cabaret, and there was a master of ceremonies … and there was a city called Berlin, in a country called Germany … and it was the end of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s well-received production of “Cabaret.”
The performance reviewed was from Saturday, 2/25/2017.
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