Thursday, September 9, 2010
Life is a CABARET-- but not quite--at the A.R.T.'s production of the Kander and Ebb musical presented at their ultra flexible, glammo theatre space turned nightclub, Oberon. It's the perfect setting for this show--better than artistic director Diane Paulus' smash THE DONKEY SHOW last season which turned Shakespeare into A disco-fevered Midsummer Night's Dream. This is sort of like The Donkey Show with Nazis.
As the show opens, the Kit Kat Dancers(you won't be able to take your eyes off Jordy Lievers as Helga),half naked ambi-sexual showgirls/guys, slowly invade the space. Then Amanda Palmer as that creepy Emcee hits the stage to sing the emblematic "Willkommen" (and vee know the Nazis vill be comin')--and it's auf wiedersehen. Palmer, lead singer of the Dresden Dolls, has a name-- but lacks the acting and vocal chops of a true theatrical performer. She's strangely unexpressive, imitating a performance rather than fully inhabiting a character. Aly Trasher is dynamic but not quite charismatic as a blond, curly-haired Sally Bowles, an English tart trying to make it onstage and off in Berlin. When she meets a young American would-be novelist stiffly played by Matt Wood, the show almost goes kaput. The actor lived up to his last name. I honestly didn't know what he was doing there.
No; it was A.R.T. stalwart Tom Derrah who blew everyone off the stage in a poignant tragic-comic turn in drag as Fraulein Schneider. That man can SING. His timing is impeccable. His scenes with Remo Airaldi were remarkably tender and the source of what little emotional engagement there was to be had.
So life is a Cabaret sometimes, but last night, on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it was more like an undercooked noodle pudding--a little lumpy, and in need of some seasoning.
Posted by Joyce Kulhawik at 10:24 PM