Cabaret by Friends Select School in Philadelphia, PA
November 16, 2016
Review submitted by Chelsea Chaet of Eastern Regional High School
It was just 1966 when composer John Kander wrote the beautiful masterpiece that is Cabaret. Set in Berlin, Germany during the 1930s, the dawn of Nazi Germany, the story follows American Sally Bowles and her life in Berlin working as a dancer at The Kit Kat Club. Narrated by the enthusiastic Emcee, Cabaret compels its audience with its characters, plot, and issues that remain prevalent today.
Friends Select School used a myriad of character choices/development– one that I have never seen before as an audience member at a showing of “Cabaret”. For one, to say that Alex Giganti as The Emcee stole the show would be an understatement. Giganti’s energy– continual through each number– shone effulgently through even the slowest of songs. His utter and complete dedication to his character was evident; with each hand motion, head bob, snap, clap, what have you, Giganti never failed to impress the audience. As an avid theatre enthusiast, his performance as The Emcee would have made Alan Cummings proud.
In addition to this, Sally Bowles, played by Nola Latty, gave a commendable performance. Her high belts were absolute music to my ears. It is no doubt that the role of Sally Bowles is extremely difficult to play, yet with Latty’s vocal, dance, AND acting skills, she attempted the role with grace and energy– a very fine job on her part.
The Kit Kat Club dancers, an ensemble consisting of predominantly females rather than men, served as the single ensemble in Cabaret. Featuring solo dancers such as Rosie, played by Emma Miller, The Kit Kat Club dancers were humorous and a joy to watch. The way that they all played off of each other yet kept in tact with their own originality was a bold choice for this show, yet one that worked well. With the help of student costume designer, Kate McGrath, the Kit Kat Club dancers, as well as the rest of the cast, looked exuberant, colorful, and each had a unique style depending on the character.
Because of the time period and setting as a whole, along with the emotional diversity of the characters and the maturity of content, Cabaret is considered a very difficult show, especially at the high school level. Despite this, the cast members put on a show that undoubtedly captured my attention with simply their energy and characterization.
Review submitted by Alyssa Rosenberg of Eastern Regional High School
In Friends Select School’s production of Cabaret, life was beautiful. The girls were beautiful. Even the orchestra was beautiful.
The musical Cabaret takes place in Berlin, Germany just before, and then during, the rise of the Nazis. It follows the story of American novelist Cliff Bradshaw, want-to-be-star Sally Bowles, aging landlord Fraulein Schneider, and her relationship with Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit salesman. The entirety of the show is underscored by the Emcee, who works as the bridge between the audience and the characters, often breaking the fourth wall.
The cast did an outstanding job of transporting the audience to 1930s Germany, specifically the Kit Kat Club girls and boys. Their numbers – choreographed by student Kayla Warren – were well-performed and highlights of the show. Additionally, the costume crew’s work paid off in spades. Each costume was so clearly selected for a reason, and fit appropriately in the time period.
Alex Giganti as the Emcee was the stand out of this production. His portrayal of the Emcee was dark, gritty, hilarious, and heartbreaking. Giganti’s enthusiasm for the role shined through in all of his numbers, making each and every time he was on stage a treat. Even his ballad – titled “I Don’t Care Much” – kept the audience engaged and left some in tears. Additionally, Nola Latty was commendable in her portrayal of Sally Bowles. She especially excelled in the moments of the show in which Sally’s break down becomes evident to the audience.
Playing the roles of Ernst Ludwig and Fraulein Schneider, Eli Luchak and Mary Graham, respectively, did great jobs in creating characters that were both likable and despicable in their own ways, Ludwig, for obvious reasons – his strong ties to the Nazi party – and Schneider in her cowardice and refusal to stand up against the party. To paraphrase a line from the show, if she was not against it, she was for it. In addition, Fraulein Kost, played by Kyra Stetler, and Herr Schultz, played by Avery Johnson, provided a few much needed moments of comic relief with their characters. And, as the show went on, they both did outstanding jobs in showing the darker change in both characters.
These days, Cabaret is all too relevant. Friends Select School’s cast and crew truly did a first-rate job in translating a script written in the 60’s to be just as relatable to today’s audiences.