Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of The Originalist

Leigh Ann Larkin and Cast
Photo by Joan Marcus
As familiar as Cabaret may seem to have become since its Broadway premiere in 1966, a solidly acted and staged production of the landmark musical is always welcome. The Eisenhower Theater at Washington's Kennedy Center is currently hosting the tour of the Roundabout Theatre Company production of the musical by Joe Masteroff (book), John Kander (music), and Fred Ebb (lyrics), which originally opened in New York in 1998 and was revived in 2014.

This production, adapted by BT McNicholl from the original direction by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, transforms the immersive New York vision (audience members sat at tables, becoming patrons of the Kit Kat Klub) to a more traditional, if still in-your-face, proscenium staging. That doesn't soften the defiantly ugly view of decadent Berlin shortly before the Nazis took power: the Kit Kat Girls still wear grimy lingerie and torn stockings (designed by William Ivey Long) as they squat, contort and seduce through confrontation. Robert Brill's scenic design makes a lot out of a few doors, pieces of furniture, and a balcony where the musicians (including some of the actors) perform, with a feverish lighting design by Peggy Eisenhauer and Mike Baldassari.

As the Emcee, Jon Peterson seems boyish in his garish makeup and bondage-inspired costume; he's toying with the audience, as if his character doesn't realize the viciousness of his actions until it's too late to change. He's a supple dancer and offers a striking physical presence.

Leigh Ann Larkin plays Sally Bowles as a woman whose bluster never quite hides her insecurities. She puts across her songs and scenes with power and an edge of desperation, whether she's onstage or trying to build a real relationship with naïve American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Benjamin Eakeley). Mary Gordon Murray and Scott Robertson provide the necessary heart and sensitivity as Cliff's crusty landlady and her suitor, a Jewish fruit seller, and Patrick Vaill as Ernst demonstrates how hatred can hide behind a bland exterior.

Kennedy Center
July 11th - August 6th, 2017
Book by Joe Masteroff
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Emcee: Jon Peterson
The Kit Kat Girls:
Rosie: Jenna Zito Clark
Lulu: Chelsey Clark
Frenchie: Laura Sheehy
Texas: Kendal Hartse
Fritzie: Alison Ewing
Helga: Sarah Bishop
The Kit Kat Boys:
Bobby: Joey Khoury
Victor: Andrew Hubacher
Hans: Ryan DeNardo
Herman: Tommy McDowell
Sally Bowles: Leigh Ann Larkin
Clifford Bradshaw: Benjamin Eakeley
Ernst Ludwig: Patrick Vaill
Customs Official: Tommy McDowell
Fraulein Schneider: Mary Gordon Murray
Fraulein Kost: Alison Ewing
Rudy: Ryan DeNardo
Herr Schultz: Scott Robertson
Max: Tommy McDowell
Gorilla: Laura Sheehy
Boy Soprano (recording): Alex Bowen
Customs Official (recording): Fred Rose
Musical supervisor/vocal arrangements: Patrick Vaccariello
Directed by BT McNicholl
Associate choreographer and choreography recreated by Cynthia Onrubia
Originally co-directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall
Originally directed by Sam Mendes
Eisenhower Theater, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC
Ticket Information: (800) 444-1324 or (202) 467-4600 or
For more information on the tour, visit

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