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Marcia Milgrom Dodge’s CABARET at Reprise, Los Angeles, Fall 2010
Posted by: showtunetrivia 09:58 am EDT 05/09/21
In reply to: PLEEEEASE not the Sam Mendes version!!!! - portenopete 11:17 pm EDT 05/06/21

When Reprise announced CABARET, I wasn’t thrilled. I’d seen the Mendes (both staged and the video of the London production). But Marcia Milgrom Dodge staged yet another variant. Some of the changes:

She tweaked the song order: "Wilkommen" was shortened--losing the verses introducing the Girls and Boys

"Mein Herr" was cut (didn't miss it at all); "Don't Tell Mama" is sufficient for establishing both Sally's character and her place in the Klub)

“The Telephone Song" was restored, giving a better view of the naughty goings-on;

Dodge turned "Don't Go" and "Maybe This Time" into a kind of duet, with Cliff pleading through his verses and Sally's lyrics clearly occuring in her mind. This improved "Don't Go," which always struck me as kind of wimpy, and it certainly made "Maybe This Time" have more dramaturgical sense. I think Ethan Mordden nailed it when he said the lyrics "Lady Peaceful" and Sally Bowles just don't click. But staged this way, with it obviously an internal monologue, I could buy it. It's not ever going to happen, obviously, since Sally's not a peaceful person, but she's deluding herself. Extremely effective.

The choreography was heavily influenced by the Charleston and Lindy Hop, and worked well, getting away from Fosse-isms. Lisa O'Hare (whom I had just seen as Gigi last season) was an outstanding Sally, turning "Cabaret" into a Statement. Bryce Ryness made the Emcee his own, coming off as much more detached and Brechtian than Grey or Cumming. You could see a kind of progession, both in the Emcee's attitude and that of the Klub itself, and that's Dodge's greatest accomplishment. I know some reviewers complained that this Kit Kat Klub wasn't as outrageous or evil or daring as others. I agree, it starts out more tame (especially with the cut-down "Wilkommen"), but there's a visible degeneration that's symptomatic of the degeneration of society. Dodge caps the show, not by showing the Emcee in the concentration camp garb, but by having the entire cast slowly snake onto the stage, with some wearing yellow star or pink triangle armbands, the rest wearing swastikas. No one remains unaffected in this world.

Terrific show. I still want to see a CABARET that restores "Why Should I Wake Up?" (I'd cut "Sitting Pretty") because it both develops Cliff's character and because it encompasses the theme of the first act, just as "What Would You Do?" defines the second.

Laura
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