‘Cabaret’ at The Keegan Theatre by Don Michael Mendoza

I walked into the Keegan Theatre expecting the usual production of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret. I got to my seat, quickly took in my surroundings and noticed the basic set with banners telling me that I was now an audience member in 1930’s Berlin at the Kit Kat Club.

Maria Rizzo (Sally Bowles). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
Maria Rizzo (Sally Bowles). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Suddenly, I began to see scantily clad women (Shadia Hafiz is the Costume Designer) who would eventually turn out to be the Kit Kat Girls performed by the sexy and playful Shayna Blass, Sarah Chaplin, Alison Crosby, Paige Felix, Sarah Lasko, and Erin Ryan, wandering in to interact with the house and setting the mood for the evening ahead. Before I knew it, Music Director J’Michael d’Haviland and his Kit Kat Band started “Willkommen” as the lights dimmed for Cabaret!

What I witnessed this night was a production that was absolutely breathtaking because it was less about flashy set pieces and intense lighting – and more focused on the amazing talents of every member of the outstanding cast – all working together to tell the story of Clifford Bradshaw’s visit to Berlin.

Paul Scanlan delivers another standout and powerful performance (He just received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for his performance as Moritz in The Keegan Theatre’s multi-nominated production of Spring Awakening) as the Emcee and his mesmerizing performance of the eery “I Don’t Care Much” is a tour de force. Maria Rizzo’s performance of the vulnerable Sally Bowles runs the gamut of every emotion and her powerful rendition of the title song “Cabaret”- without makeup or a wig – (reminiscent of Natasha Richardson’s Tony Award-winning performance as Sally in the 1998 Broadway revival) into the ‘Finale Ultimo’ are moments that could move mountains!

Paul Scanlan (Emcee) and the Kit Kat Girls. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
Paul Scanlan (Emcee) and the Kit Kat Girls. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Bradley Foster Smith’s Clifford Bradshaw has the right combination of optimism, naiveté, and confusion, while Jane Petkosky’s motherly Fraulein Schneider is introduced to the audience in ‘So What’ and then exudes toughness and desperation in the heartbreaking “What Would You Do?” She and Stan Shulman are a delight when singing “It Couldn’t Please Me More” (or ‘The Pineapple Song”). And kudos to the energetic and hard-working ensemble, including the Kit Kat Boys, played by Charlie Abel, Tim Adams, Matthew Rubbelke, and Ryan Patrick Walsh, who are put through a workout with Rachel Leigh Dolan’s choreography. Jake Null provides the crisp sound design.

Co-Directors and Keegan Theatre Company members Christina A. Coakley and Michael Innocenti do an excellent job telling story of Cabaret and bringing the audience face-to-face to the world of 1930’s Berlin. Cabaret holds a special place in the hearts of many musical theatre aficionados, but its deeper themes of drug addiction and abuse are very clear in this production and they do not hide anything about the show being a dark musical comedy.

The Ensemble of 'Cabaret.' Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
The Ensemble of ‘Cabaret.’ Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

The Keegan Theatre’s astounding Cabaret is well-worth visiting! So come to this Cabaret my friends…

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

Cabaret has been extended to March 2, 2013 and is playing at The Keegan Theatre – 1742 Church Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 892-0202, or purchase them online.

Come to Their Cabaret’: Michael Innocenti & Christina A. Coakley on Keegan Theatre’s Cabaret by Cate Brewer on DCMTA.


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