Bustiers and burlesque dancers made for some obviously awkward moments for the grandparents sitting in the front row of Blue Canoe Productions’ Cabaret.
While outlandish behaviour and scantily-clad cast members propelled the production, the musical is defined by a poignant story full of mesmerizing performances.
The Tony Award-winning book-turned-musical revolves around American writer Cliff Bradshaw, who travels to Berlin in the 1930s to find inspiration for his novel. He discovers the Kit Kat Club, a burlesque house with beautiful people and seeds of the growing Nazi movement in German society. The highlight of the play is older couple Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider. Their endearing romance is the perfect contrast to the burlesque Kit Kat Club dances that reoccur throughout the show. Their love blooms over pineapples and oranges, providing some of the most heart-warming and heart-wrenching moments of the play.
Hayley Goldenberg as Fraulein Schneider gives an incredibly mature performance, leaving me with tears rolling done my face as she realizes she can’t marry her Jewish love.
Sally Bowles, the star of the Kit Kat Club, is played by Alex Pedersen, who much like her character starts off elusive and cold. But when she sings “Maybe This Time” she finally finds a relatable voice that charms the audience through her vulnerability, not her assets.
Joey Graff gives the most diverse performance as the Emcee. He’s spell-binding as the leader of the show, switching from sexy to deranged. He puts the audience in a theatrical coma when he sings “I Don’t Care Much.”
The cast truly transforms into their characters thanks to help from wardrobe and make-up. Strategically placed glitter on the dancers’ bodies and sequins on their costumes are the small touches that create the magic of the club.
With such stunning performances, it’s unfortunate that Blue Canoe chose a strange layout for the stage at the Baby Grand Theatre. The audience is split into two factions, with the stage in the middle. Often, one side of the audience was left out when characters directed their lines at the other half.
But the lack of a real stage makes the audience feel like they are truly in 1930s Berlin — in part thanks to the cast using the audience as props, including as a mirror which they adjust themselves through.
Despite the minor staging issue, Cabaret is still an amazing show, that flawlessly mixes the serious issues of Nazi Germany with the day-to-day frivolity of a cabaret club.
Cabaret plays at the Baby Grand Theatre on Thursdays to Saturdays until Jan. 28. Shows are at 8 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors.
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