19 April 2010

Cabaret, by the Hypocrites

I never before saw Cabaret on stage, though I have seen Bob Fosse's movie multiple times, and read Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories with appreciation several years ago. So--knowing the movie was different from the stage production, and knowing that The Hypocrites were likely to make their own changes, I really didn't know what to expect from this show, which we went to see before any reviews had come out.

It's pretty thrilling With just a couple of spare settings, and some fabulous songs and terrific performances, The Hypocrites tell a raunchy, romantic, scary, and finally chilling story of 1931 Berliners (and Anglophone expatriates) trying to live round lives that don't fit in the square holes allotted by the rise of fascism. The show is more overtly political than I expected--my recollection is that the movie is pretty in-your-face about sex, but more indirect about politics.

The Hypocrites are in-your-face about both; being in-your-face is their signature. A troupe of outstanding performers delivers the goods: Jesse Fisher as the Emcee is especially noteworthy, and Lindsay Leopold as Sally Bowles has some really splendid moments. Jim Heatherly as Schultz and Kate Harris as Frau Schneider are also standouts in their romantic subplot, and there is not a bad performance in the ensemble. The band which sits just behind the action throughout the show, is also exceptional, creating and sustaining the feeling of being at a seedy cabaret for two and a half hours.

Can't recommend this too highly, but don't take your kids or your parents. It's not appropriate for children, and you'd be embarrassed sitting next to your parents during a lot of those dance numbers: the Kit Kat girls and boys nearly fall out of their clothes as they gyrate.