Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cabaret at the Bay Street Players in Eustice.


I had never seem Cabaret before, except for a you tube video clip of the song "Willkomen". It was a long drive from Orlando and I arrived a few minutes late. The theater was already dark and I stood in the back of the theater to let my eyes adjust. There was no chance I would find my seat number printed on the ticket. I asked if a seat was open and I believe the director David Gerrard suggested I find a seat in the back of house left.

The story is straight forward but exotic. American Clifford Bradshaw, (Austin Langford) arrived in Berlin hoping to live cheaply and write his first novel. His landlady, Fraulein Schneider, (Terri Lea Myers) begrudgingly allowed him to rent a room for a reduced rate. Her solo, "So what?" describes  her life of pain and compromise. She was excited to get a tenant who wasn't a prostitute. Cliff is quickly invited out by another tenant to a club where the exotic and sensual nightlife became the norm for life in the big city on the verge of World War II. At the club, Cliff met dancer and singer Sally Bowels (Gabby Brown). She quickly found her way into his life, becoming his roommate and then lover.

Sally's title song "Cabaret" is towards the end of the show and it is filled with lost hope and longing. Gabby's singing was inspired. Sally hit rock bottom because she was unable to see the horrors to come and escape when a window of hope opened. Though a seedy life, being a cabaret singer has the false allure of fame. Kit Cat girl Crysta Marie helped get me in for the sketch opportunity, so of course I watched her every dance move on stage. Some girls had lipstick lips painted comically large but the excess was just enough.

The shows menacing central theme surfaces when Herr Schultz (Lloyd Holder) and Fraulein Schneider have an engagement party. One party goer was a member of the Nazi Party and his intolerance and hatred broke up the festivities. The theme hit close to home because today in America hatred and divisiveness seem to the the norm.

I have to applaud choreographer Amanda Warren who worked out some sensual and inspired dance routines, which are the cornerstone of the production. The Emcee (Eduardo Rivera) gave  a sensual and playful performance. He mocked authority and delighted in the decadent.Thick stage make up and scanty outfits made him a delight to watch. When the Nazi forced the crowd to sing a German anthem, the emcee lifted his trench coat to show a huge swastika drawn on his right butt cheek. The audience gasped and laughed.

The final number, "Willkomen" was about how the club was a safe place where everyone could be themselves, playfully lewd and lascivious. Everyone was beautiful, from the dancers to the piano player (Eric Branch). This sentiment mirrored words I have heard so often about the Pulse nightclub. There people felt safe to be themselves, but hatred made its way inside. Hate in the play was symbolized by a single brick dropped to the floor that reminded us all of Krystal Nacht when German youths destroyed Jewish merchants businesses. The implied threat of violence to come, reminded me of the violence that took 49 lives in one night here in Orlando. Herr Schultz ignores the threat believing it will pass and in my gut I am screaming, "Wake up!" The ever playful and sensual emcee dropped his trench coat to the floor to reveal a tattered concentration camp outfit. In Orlando life has returned to normal for most as their life goes on. Although there have been so many signs of love and acceptance since the Pulse shooting, The GLBT community still faces hate and intolerance daily. I keep hoping Orlando is moving towards a brighter future, but it is so much easier to repeat history. Will it be a profit of doom or a celebration and escape in a cabaret?

The show runs through May 14th. Tickets are $18 to$21.
Put down the knitting, the book and the broom
It's time for a holiday
Life is a cabaret, old chum
So come to the cabaret

No comments: