WCCOBy Sara Pelissero January 20, 2014
Schedule your Brazilian wax and gird your loins — it’s time for “Cabaret.”
Hailed as one of the greatest musicals of all time, the all-local production of “Cabaret” certainly had plenty to live up to.
Would they take inspiration from Hal Prince’s 1966 Broadway smash, the 1972 classic film starring Miss Liza Minnelli or perhaps give a nod to Alan Cumming’s Tony Award-winning performance in the 1998 revival?
Luckily, for the audience at Saturday night’s performance inside Pantages Theatre, the answer is yes — all of the above.
Director Peter Rothstein and his creative team from Theater Latté Da made some excellent choices when it came to putting together a local spin on an iconic masterpiece.
And that’s highly attributed to their choices in casting. Kira Lace Hawkins brings a dynamic vocal to the role of Sally Bowles — a “star” performer at the dingy Kit Kat Klub in 1930s Berlin. Hawkins’ only downfall might be that she’s too good in the performer role, which clouds her supposed delusional aspirations and gives a false hope to her search of true stardom.
Not that anyone’s complaining.
Hawkins nails the desperation of a lost soul in her performance of “Cabaret,” with moments that would make ol’ Liza with a ‘Z’ proud, pouring the emotion of the song out of her mascara-soaked eyes.
The Twin Cities’ Meryl Streep, Sally Wingert, proves once again why having her name on your cast list is always better than not. As Fraulein Schneider, Wingert elevates the struggle of love and fear while maintaining the so-called grouchy exterior that’s become her security blanket.
But perhaps the most surprising star of the evening goes to fresh-faced Tyler Michaels, who leads the audience through the highs and the lows that is “Cabaret.” As Emcee, Michaels flawlessly runs the gamut of entertaining and blending. His acrobatics — and impressive vocals while mid-air — is an enchanting twist, perfectly staged and meticulously performed. His constant presence is a comfort throughout the show, until it’s not.
As the lovable and charming Herr Schultz, James Michael Detmar brings an innocence and a vulnerability to the role that solidifies the heartbreak later felt. His naivety to the changing world around him only furthers a sense of pity and remorse.
The production from the very top of the show to the final bow was well executed and brilliantly performed. The staging perfectly suited the Pantages stage, without losing sight of its Latté Da roots. The costumes leave little to the imagination — and whatever isn’t implied is directly thrust in a phallic matter. It’s a far cry from Joel Grey’s 1966 full tailored suit but still, I’d imagine, not nearly as shocking as it once was.
For a musical that must balance both the celebration of a new year and the end of the world within its two-hour-and-15-minute window, this show certainly does it to the best of its ability. It metaphorically lets the klub represent the hope, the threat and the desperation of a new era without being unnecessarily literal.
So as the winter takes yet another turn into a polar-like vortex, perhaps the best retreat is to warm yourself in front of this hot musical. Boasting the indoor comforts of a vacation from the outside world, it’s a place to leave your troubles at the door and forget all that disappoints you.
Here, and in this local production, everything truly is beautiful.