Theatre Information

Centreville High School Cabaret

By • Dec 5th, 2012 • Category: Cappies, Virginia

Gin, grief, glamour, and much more were in store at a place that’s “so tacky and horrible, everyone has a nice time” during Centreville High School’s drama-packed production of Cabaret.

Highly decorated with Tony, Drama Desk, and Laurence Olivier Awards, the show, written and composed by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Joe Masteroff, was originally produced on Broadway in 1966 to almost instant acclaim from audiences everywhere. Both symbolic and dynamic, Cabaret tells the story of American writer Cliff Bradshaw, who has come to early 1930s Berlin in hopes of finding inspiration for a new novel. Instead, he discovers romance in addition to political unrest: in his residence at the boarding house of the elderly Fraulein Schneider, the acquaintance with Ernst Ludwig (later revealed as a Nazi), and especially at the seamy Kit Kat Club. This cabaret serves as perhaps the last indulgent hotspot and safe haven for homosexuals and general frivolity. Throughout the story, the Club also provides a metaphor for the tenuous relationship between Nazi politics and social morals, as well as a visual narrator for the steamy plotline, especially that of the fateful relationship between Bradshaw and club dancer Sally Bowles.

The nuances of the fragile circumstances of Centreville’s Cabaret were best acknowledged through the subtle but powerful actions of the ensemble. Every waiter, partygoer, or military officer had convincing stage business, which made the fear and lust laced show more believable. Complementing this realism was the dramatic flair of the onstage orchestra, which punctuated the sensuality and apprehension of Cabaret.

Joshua Ewalt as Cliff Bradshaw proved especially commanding, with his clear solemn voice and touching vulnerability. Opposite him, Binta Barry as Sally Bowles presented inspiring optimism in the face of troublesome times, displaying charming interaction with Bradshaw.

Though some of Cabaret‘s characters may have lacked energy, Centreville’s Kit Kat Girls more than made up for it with stage presence and mastery of advanced choreography. Telephone and Kit Kat Girl Nora Winsler particularly stood out with eye-catching enthusiasm and character-driven pizzazz in her acrobatics and overall physicality, especially in rousing numbers such as “The Money Song” and “Two Ladies.” The timing between the actors, orchestra, and dancers was occasionally unsynchronized, but everyone compensated for this by exhibiting sharp sensuality in movement and definitive characterization.

Timing was sometimes an issue for the stage crew. Some difficult set changes were distractingly slow, but they performed them with impressive silence. The sets, designed by Nick Dell-Omo and Jeremy Smith, displayed impressive comprehension of the era, with glitzy streamers hanging from the Kit Kat Club’s walls, and bland watercolors plastering the walls of the boardinghouse. Suitable props, such as period microphones and Bradshaw’s aged typewriter, emphasized the period.

Despite the dark and ironic subject matter, Centreville High School’s production of Cabaret was thoroughly insightful and invited all to “relax, be yourself, and take off your corset.”

by Rachel Price of Woodbridge Senior High School

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