Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Arizona Theatre Company Review: "Cabaret"

A bold and brash rumination on humanity's capacity for freedom, joy, lust and evil, "Cabaret" is a psychosexual explosion of a musical that sets out to disrupt the status quo.

If you'd think it would lose its edge after five decades, you'd be wrong.

Arizona Theatre Company's production reinvigorates playwright Joe Masteroff's artistic voice, joined with Bob Fosse's sense of electric movement. The story set in 1930s Berlin is every bit as relevant and poignant a mirror of 2019 Tucson. Or Moscow. Or Mar-a-Lago.

The tale of a dive sex club's gradual loss of spirit and soul in the backdrop of the Nazi takeover lulls you into a hypnotic flow of garish entertainment, only to sock you in the stomach with twists and revelations brought on by the knocking on the door from the outside world. It's a story of the loss of idealism and humanity's ability to rationalize any indignity as a necessity of day-to-day survival.

As thought-provoking as the show may be, it's never short of an Atomic fireball-flavored fun. Director Sara Bruner keeps every corner of the stage crackling with intoxicating movement and exhilarating sound.

Standouts among the superb cast include Michelle Dawson as the sultry Fraulein Kost, Sean Patrick Doyle as the lithe, naughty emcee, Madison Micucci as falling star Sally Bowles and David Kelly as the dark, subtly domineering Herr Schultz.

An able ensemble, which includes acrobatic performances from Shaun-Avery Williams, Tatumn Zale, Lisa Kuhnen, Spence Ford, Xander Mason and Antonia Raye, share a uniform brilliance and barely-restrained energy that resonates throughout the audience. Jaclyn Miller's seductively vigorous choreography keeps everyone busy.

A phantasmagorical explosion of sultry indulgence, boundary-blurring sexuality and cross-cultural  blending, "Cabaret" is a gasp-inducing rumination of a society's willful descent from freedom to tyranny. It's also a savage indictment against the flaccid defense of ignorance as an excuse not to stand up to the sight of liberty swirling the drain.

"Cabaret" plays in Tucson through Dec. 29, then moves to Phoenix from Jan. 4-Jan. 26. For more information and tickets, click here.

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