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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Laberge

The Kit Kat Klub seduces the stage in Cabaret

Photo by Joan Marcus

The girls are beautiful, the orchestra is beautiful… The era is ugly. Cabaret gives an unforgiving stare at 1931 Berlin through the thick, smoky glasses of the Kit Kat Klub. This Roundabout Theatre Company tour of the 1966 Kander and Ebb hit quickly desensitizes audiences to the vulgarity of the night life, empathizing viewers to the unsuspecting Germans as the political climate takes a turn for the worse.

Photo by Joan Marcus

In the role of cabaret performer Sally Bowles, Leigh Ann Larken showcases the promiscuous leading lady’s stifled longing for grandeur. As circumstance carries her through unspeakable heartbreaks, Larken reveals boundless layers in Bowles, culminating in the breath-stealing showstopper and title number, “Cabaret”.

Photo by Joan Marcus

The lighting, by Peggy Eisenhauer, brings out the contrasting tone from the romping opening to the vastly different conclusion of this inevitable tale. Equally powerful in storytelling is the set design, courtesy of Robert Brill, complementing the honesty and realism in this production.

Each element of this production is perfectly fitted to a clear, decisive vision, and director BT McNicholl can be thanked for that. Every decision is masterful, and not a detail goes amiss. While some doors in the set were finicky and would not shut at first attempt, this did not detract from an ounce of McNicholl’s artistry. Cabaret brings a story of raw humanity despite unkind politics, taking meaning on a modern Madison stage.

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