MIT Musical Theatre Guild
Aug. 24–25, Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, Sept. 6–8, 2007
Kresge Little Theater
Cabaret, a historical musical about the risqué culture of late 1920s Berlin, explores the unique relationship between a cabaret singer, Sally Bowles, and an American writer, Clifford Bradshaw. The musical ends where many stories begin — with the Nazis’ rise to power — and shows the transformation of a once eccentric and welcoming cabaret, the Kit Kat Club, into a depressing Nazi establishment.
The MIT Musical Theatre Guild’s rendition of Cabaret was not fulfilling; nevertheless, some of the individual performances were impressive, especially considering the show is a summer musical production. Mia A. Shandell ’10, who played the dynamic Sally Bowles, blew the audience away with both her energy and musical talent. Her over the top acting initially struck the audience as histrionic, but in the end everyone realized that it was appropriate for her character, who believes that life is a show.
It is a shame that her musical talent could not be met by her costar Barry M. Kudrowitz G, who played Clifford Bradshaw, the simple American who aspires to be a writer and is seeking inspiration in Berlin. Kudrowitz’s outstanding acting created a warm-hearted character that the audience could not help but adore. However, his singing skills fell short, especially when compared to Shandell’s impressive vocals, and the performance would have benefited from the use of a microphone.
The most versatile performance came from Carlos Cardenas ’09, the Master of Ceremonies of the cabaret and show. His bold performance and captivating voice were simply brilliant, and he set the mood for each scene through his comical interpretation of the character.
By far the most endearing plot line was the love story between Fraulein Schneider (Elizabeth V. Stephanopoulos ’07) and Herr Schultz (Edmund W. Golaski ’99). The connection between both actors created a tenderness that melted the audience’s hearts. Another impressive voice came from Carrie A. Lee ’10 who plays the provocative and sassy Fraulein Kostwho. J. Michael Spencer (who plays Ernst Ludwig) also does a brilliant acting job in his portrayal of a manipulative German politician. Finally, the show would not have been complete without the Kit Kat Girls and Boys that set the fun loving scene of the bar. My only critique of them is that several of their choreographed moves were awkward and more fitting for a larger cast.
When I initially entered Kresge Little Theater, the set failed to impress, and the positioning of the band on the stage appeared to be a bad idea because of the limited space left on the stage, but the cast and crew somehow made it work. When the show started, the spotlight created a dazzling effect that set the mood of a bar. As the show progressed, my initial amazement faded into slight disappointment because the lights were not on cue. However, the way the second set appears out of the original one is very inventive work by the designers. Still, the transition between the two sets did not always run smoothly, which created long and slightly humorous transitions between scenes.
Overall, the play is a bittersweet rendition of pre-Nazi Germany that is both entertaining and ultimately depressing. So, as Sally Bowles says, “Come to the Cabaret,” even if it has some flaws.