Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
Credit for this must go to director Kevin Connors, who has elicited fine performances from all his actors, as well as to scenic designer Kelly Burr Nelsen, whose striking set practically envelops the audience. There is also a marvelous onstage band led by musical director Thomas Conroy. This sterling production exudes the style of Berlin in the late 1920s, both the flash and glamour of the period, as well as the growing terror of the rise of the Nazis.
Eric Scott Kincaid is ideal as the Emcee, and he can be both entertaining and more than a little bit frightening. Matching him perfectly is Desiree Davar as Sally Bowles. In a role so identified with Liza Minnelli, it is somewhat daring that Davar is made to look a great deal like Liza. But she soon proves that she brings her own considerable talents to the part. This actress scores greatly with her opening number, "Don't Tell Mama," and she nearly stops the show with her sensational singing of the title song.
Nicolas Dromard is a sympathetic and likable Cliff, and it is a real pleasure that his solo, the previously cut "Why Should I Wake Up?," is retained in this production. In supporting roles, Anne Kanengeiser and Jim Schilling are just lovely as Fraulein Schneider and Herr Shultz. They make a warm and endearing couple, and Kanengeiser is almost heart stopping in her rendition of "What Would You Do?" late in the show.
Tony Conaty and Alex Drost are good looking and fine playing a number of different parts, and Hillary Ekwall gets a lot of laughs as Fraulein Kost. Ekwall also sings one of the most disturbing numbers in the show, "Tomorrow Belongs to Me," at the end of the first act, where she is joined by the chilling Andrew Foote as the initially appealing Ernst Ludwig. The audience is drawn in by the enjoyable songs at the Kit Kat Club, before the ugliness that exists underneath is revealed.
The work of costume designer Diane Vanderkroef is exceptional and period perfect, and R. J. Romeo's atmospheric lighting adds a great deal to the show. Director Kevin Connors also gets a major assist from choreographer Simone DePaolo, whose dance numbers are dazzling.
The director has included a lengthy message in the program about the Holocaust and Hitler's rise to power. This staging feels almost uncomfortably timely, due to the current political climate. Music Theatre of Connecticut's Cabaret offers a lot of fun, but the undercurrent of tension will leave your heart in your throat.
Cabaret, through April 14, 2019, at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave., Norwalk CT. For tickets, please visit www.musictheatreofct.com or call the box office at 203-454-3883.