The Repertory Theatre of St Louis opens its forty-seventh season with a BANG! Director/Choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge has brought us a lovely gift in the form of a new production of the venerable "Cabaret".
You’d think the St. Lou Fringe Festival would be fertile ground for a cabaret act. The venues are small, the shows are required to be under an hour, and you need to be able to pack up and move your act quickly. It all seems ideally suited to the cabaret format, and yet to the best of my knowledge the closest thing to a cabaret performance this weekend is Christy Strickland’s entertaining “Live at Satori” show.
Once upon a time, there were a couple of white chicks named Alice Kinsella and Debra Sharn. They liked to sit around. And sing, now and then.
About half-way through Craig Rubano’s thoughtful, innovative, and surprisingly profound new show We Can Be Kind, my wife passed me a note which read “Wouldn’t it be lovely if religion were to evoke a similar response in everyone who found it?” That’s not a typical reaction to cabaret, but then one of the many strengths of We Can be Kind is that it isn’t typical cabaret.
Before he even sang a note, it was already clear from Craig Pomranz’s publicity material that he had both a reputation as a technically strong singer and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Anybody who sells t-shirts with the phrase “I Spent the Night With Craig” can’t be too stuffy, after all.
The Presenters Dolan presented the husband and wife team of Joe Dreyer and Rosemary Watts in their Valentine Cabaret show celebrating Crazy Relationships: Love's Many Aspects and (suitably) Love on February 11 and 12 at the Kranzberg Center. When Joe and Rosemary hit the stage they started right in without preamble with "Everything I've Got [belongs to you]," by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. With this first song they set the tone for the night, which was an obvious affection for each other and a joy in singing songs that were special to them.
Renowned cabaret artist Steve Ross has a long and happy relationship with St. Louis, going back to the early days of the Grandel Cabaret Series. He was one of the first performers to be featured by Jim Dolan's Presenters Dolan organization when it got off the ground several years ago, and he even made a special trip to Mound City this past February to participate in a tribute cabaret for the late Chris Jackson. It's only appropriate, then, that he chose our fair city for a trial run of his latest show, Rhythm and Romance, which opens a three-week run at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room in January. Judging from the audience response, it was a good choice.
It was a striking visual moment: in the spotlight the pretty blonde girl; the short little black dress, heavily fringed—almost flapper in style. And—-quite startlingly—long scarlet silk opera gloves. Ah, that was a true touch of inspiration! This is the image when Elise LaBarge steps onto the stage of the Kranzberg cabaret to begin her evening of Kurt Weill songs. It’s beautifully appropriate for her opening number which is, of course, “Mack the Knife”.
If the opening night crowd for Come Rain or Come Shine was not quite as large as Cabaret St. Louis would have liked, it might have been due to some lukewarm reviews the show got earlier this year in New York. If so, local audiences should have no concern. Come Rain or Come Shine may not be a flawless show, but it's a polished and entertaining one with solid musical and theatrical values that gets the fall Cabaret St. Louis season off to a fine start.
Cabaret has always been one of my favorite musicals, as nothing can top Liza Minnelli in green nail polish belting out “Life is a Cabaret.” As excited as I was to see Ivory Theatre's production of the Broadway classic, I was disappointed upon arrival to find that no programs were made available to the audience members. As someone who enjoys knowing who is playing what part on stage, this oversight by the theater left me a bit unnerved. Thankfully, a crew member brought me a slip of paper before the beginning of Act I, listing who the actors and their respective parts. This lack of foresight, however, proved to be indicative of things to come. It appeared that many things were overlooked in this production of Cabaret, and that perhaps the production could have benefitted from another week in rehearsals.