OCTOBER 2022 | Volume 220
Alex Gullason & Nick Fontaine as Sally and Cliff.
Music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb
Book by Joe Masteroff
Kit Kat Club, 191 Alexander St.
Oct. 15-Nov. 5
www.raincitytheatre.com or 604-251-1363
Raincity Theatre director Chris Adams’ immersive storefront productions of Company and especially Sweeney Todd were highlights of the 2018-2019 musical theatre seasons. Now Adams and the company are back, transforming a Gastown non-theatre space into Berlin’s Kit Kat Club for Cabaret.
Maybe it’s the familiarity of Cabaret, but nothing about it is as surprising or shocking as it once was (or as their Sweeney Todd absolutely was). The design of the space, a little thrust stage, keeps the audience at more of a distance than the earlier two Raincity shows. The boys and girls in their underwear making suggestive gestures to the audience feel more mannered than decadent or erotic—though Nicol Spinola’s choreography in the small, crowded space does showcase impressive acrobatic legwork from the Kit Kat girls.
In one of the best roles in 20th century musical theatre, Graham Coffeng does a good job as the Emcee, and Alex Gullason gives a convincing performance as strung out Sally Bowles. Her brutal, devastated “Cabaret” is a highlight of the show, but her somewhat light voice drains some of the drama from her other songs. The Fraulein Schneider-Herr Schultz subplot has never worked for me. Their songs are just dull, and even the excellent Catriona Murphy can’t make them soar.Nick Fontaine as Sally’s stolid American lover Cliff and Kamyar Pazandeh as Nazi Ernst Ludwig are fine. I have no problems with any of the acting. I just wanted the pace to speed up, the cues to tighten up, and the energy to bump up. I get that these Berliners are either unaware of or consciously avoiding the horrors soon to come, but leisurely seems the wrong keynote for the atmosphere of the club or production. The Holocaust images at the end shouldn’t come as a total surprise.
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