KIT KAT KLUB IS OPEN THIS SUMMER, AND IT IS REMARKABLE. WHAT USE IS SITTING ALONE IN YOUR ROOM, COME TO THIS CABARET
The Kit Kat Klub is open at SHN Golden Gate Theatre for the early summer, and it is just as intense and wonderful as it has ever been. The touring version of the Roundabout Theatre Company's of Sam Mendes 2014 interpretation of Fred Ebb and John Kander's production of CABARET is on stage through July 17th at the Golden Gate stage. This tour is directed by BT McNicholl based on both Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall's past productions with Roundabout.
The Mendes revival made Alan Cumming a Broadway star as the iconic Emcee. CABARET is based on the play “I Am Camera” that was inspired by Christopher Isherwood's 1939 portrait of Sally in "Goodbye to Berlin". I first saw the original version at the Curran Theatre when I was a teen with Joel Grey and Melissa Hart, but the musical has changed so much over the years to highlight the darker side of the end of freedom of art. The story about the “The Night of the Long Knives” and Hitler's takeover of Berlin.
The Roundabout Theatre Company celebrates CABARET’S 50th year with this excellent tour featuring Randy Harrison (Mr Robot, Queer as Folk) as the Emcee and the wonderful Andrea Goss as Sally Bowles. William Ivey Long's costumes are rich with sexual undertones for both the male and female characters, but especially for the Emcee and his/her sexless leather chaps look. Goss is pixy goth cute, yet a dark Sally who is enchanting. Her Sally is the most memorable I have seen, and is way too talented for the likes of the Kit Kat Klub. With all the various versions this ground breaking musical has gone through since 1966 with its amazing score on Broadway and around the world. CABARET’s 50th year lands in the perfect city as we celebrate SF’s pride for 2016. The good news is that McNicholl, Mendes and co-director/choreographer Rob Marshall have kept the original vision of the revival as powerful a musical as they did some 18 years ago.
The revolutionary groundbreaking two and half hours is still a mix of vaudevillian cabaret performances at Berlin’s Kit Kat Klub with a story following the lives and romances of several folks who live in 1929/30 fall of Berlin. As the story progresses, the rise of Hitler impacts both the Klub and these characters. With the focus on the rise of Nazism in Germany, CABARET might risk bringing current fears of our own election 2016. The sold out audience was entranced with Landlady Fraulein Schneider (Shannon Cochran) and store owner Herr Schultz’ (Mark Nelson) engaging love story. It is the sweet older couple story, and the love between Sally and American writer, Cliff Bradshaw, (Lee Aaron Rosen) add the perfect tragic mix.
Harrison hits every manic level of the sardonic charm in a man who can still shock (maybe not as much for a San Francisco crowd) but the final moments make it clear that he's about to be overpowered by the darkest forces in history. The Nazi anthem "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" shouts out with defiance and destruction. Harrison's Emcee baits us, as he flirts with the audience members, pokes at our square ways while making us squirm and asking why we are so in love with his charm. A few songs from the original book are gone like “The Telephone Song” and this version has been streamlined with a simple but just as powerful set by Robert Brill’s brilliant frame within a frame of the pre Nazi Berlin.
The Kit Kat band is perched above the Klub and still includes cast members in the orchestra, under the direction of Robert Cookman, the setting is simple and opens for both the Klub and Clifford's room. Harrison is on stage most of the time as the Emcee, magnetic passion and charm hypnotized the audience with iconic CABARET songs "Willkommen," "Money", "If You Could See Her,” and “I Don’t Care Much”. Harrison’s voice is energized in the full cast numbers of the “Kit Kat Line” and his seduction of Clifford.
Andrea Goss, as Sally in her grand fur, and ease of swallowing raw eggs, and her moving anthem “Maybe Next Time” is one of the highlights for the dark evening. Her vocals in the iconic number “Cabaret” is so very poignant and her voice is keen and emotional. "Don't Tell Mama", "Mein Herr" "Perfectly Marvelous," all bring to the this CABARET that explosive climate of doom. Cochran and Nelson as the two older lovers are touching together and bring their cute and enduring “It Couldn’t Please Me More” Pineapple song new meaning to our modern issues, and the song always wins over any audience the many times I have seen it performed. Shannon Cochran is stellar in her performance of "What Would You Do?" the end of line tragedy of the times of this CABARET.
Lee Aaron Rosen is a lost innocent as the romantic Cliff who is in constant struggle with his sexuality and his moments with Bobby played by the handsome Leeds Hill. BT McNicholl excellent direction is strong, erotic and fully realized, and his use of the very strong Randy Harrison is the key to the remarkable power of this production. The sexy ensemble of Kit Kat Girls and Boys are a fashion show of decadence and glamour, all very talented since all the cast has to play instruments. The feisty Alison Ewing plays Fraulein Kost the overworked prostitute that has the perfect comic timing with Cochran and scares us with her rendition of “Tomorrow” and her love for Nazis. Ned Noyes is the dapper and sneaky Nazi Ernst, and his seduction of Cliff. It is not a disappointment that Cynthia Onrubia’s choreography honors late Bob Fosse. CABARET still speaks to us and our contentious current political climate, that makes this touring company the most important to visit SHN this season. The instant standing ovation from the sold out opening night crowd was well deserved; this CABARET is not to be missed.
SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE PRESENTS
THE ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANYS
Written Joe Masteroff, Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Originally Directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall
Directed by BT McNicholl, Music Director Robert Cookman
With Randy Harrison and Andrea Goss
Now Through – JULY 17, 2016
SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE
Tickets at SHN https://www.shnsf.com
$40 RUSH TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR CABARET!
A limited number of $40 Rush tickets will be available for every performance beginning 2 hours prior to curtain at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre Box Office. Tickets are subject to availability. Cash only. 2 per person. Rush tickets are void if resold.
Photos by JOAN MARCUS
High lights from the US Tour 2016
Randy talks about his role in CABARET National Tour 50th Celebration.
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