Theatre Information

Richmond Triangle Players Cabaret

By • Jun 17th, 2014 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
Richmond Triangle Players: (Info) (Web)
Richmond Triangle Players Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through July 5th
2:30 with intermission
$32-$35/$16-$18 RAPT, Student (Plus Fees)
Reviewed June 15th, 2014

What good is sitting along in your room? Come hear the music play. That’s what three generations of my family did for Father’s Day, enjoying the renowned musical Cabaret at Richmond Triangle Players cabaret-like atmosphere.

Director Penny Ayn Maas, who appeared for five years on Broadway in the last Broadway revival (before the current one), uses the small, intimate RTP stage to her advantage, creating a two-level set. The lower level is where most of the action takes place; while the upper level houses the band and some of the performers at the Kit Kat Klub Cabaret.

For those not familiar with the plot of the play (or the 1972 movie starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey) Cabaret juxtaposes the horrific changes in 1930′s Germany with the insular life inside the Kit Kat Klub.

British Cabaret singer Sally Bowles (Nicole Foret Obertleitner) meets American writer Clifford Bradshaw (Stevie Rice) who has just arrived in Berlin. Bradshaw has already met Ernst Ludwig (Evan Nasteff) on the train to Berlin. Ludwig refers Bradshaw to rent a room in a Boarding House run by a single old woman, Frauline Schneider (Jeanie Rule). A sub-plot follows Schneider’s doomed romance with elderly Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz (Doug Schneider).

The entire play is overseen by the Emcee at the Kit Kat Klub (Chris Hester). Maas makes an interesting directorial choice in making the Emcee less dark and menacing than in the movie and earlier productions; and more of a god-like figure watching over the action from the band stage and interacting at times with the other performers as more of a puppet master. As the play, and the history it captures, turns darker, the Emcee remains the voice and face of optimism and hope — right to the end. Hester is perfectly cast in this adaptation as he masterfully maintains the Emcees’ likeability and charisma and immerses himself in the role. Likewise his pleasant vocals are spot-on and he capably carries the role as the show’s voice and narrator.

Obertleitner does not have Liza Minnelli’s powerful belting voice, but compensates with strong dancing and acting chops — making Sally even more eccentric than Minnelli’s performance. I’m not sure if it was a directorial or acting choice, but I do wish Obertleitner hadn’t remained stagnant behind a microphone stand for powerhouse numbers like “Maybe Next Time” and the signature “Cabaret.” The lack of movement or even hand gestures eliminated some of the potential emotional content.

Rice carried off the innocence and initial naiveté of Bradshaw well. His character (and the audience’s) awakening to what was going on in Germany was well-developed in his performance.

Nasteff perfectly portrayed the changes in Ludwig as well, starting as almost a comedic German version of Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd’s “wild and crazy guys,” then becoming a Nazi officer and clearly delineating him as a hateful representation of all that was evil in Germany at that time.

Rule and Schneider carried the heart of the production, as two empathetic figures caught in the hatred and fear of their time. Their beautiful voices and tender and heartfelt performances added a whole other dimension to the story.

One other stand out was Lanaya van Dreisen as Fraulein Kost whose powerful vocals (and accordion playing) in the haunting “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” built to the climax of Act 1.

Michael Jarrett’s lights enhanced Frank Foster’s simple two-tier set and artistically added to the emotion of several numbers through shades of yellow, blue and orange. Holly Sullivan’s costumes (or at times lack thereof) perfectly set the time and characters.

“Life is a Cabaret;” and as the Emcee says “leave your troubles outside” because life at this Cabaret at RTP is a beautifully staged, well-cast production.

Photo Gallery

“Come hear the music play!”
Nicole Foret Oberleitner as Sally Bowles
Nicole Foret Oberleitner as Sally Bowles

Photos by John MacLellan

The Cast (in order of appearance)

  • Emcee: Chris Hester
  • The Kit Kat Girls
    • Lulu: Lesie Pumphrey
    • Texas: Bethaney Bagley
    • Fritzie: Lanaya van Dreisen
    • Helga: Brianne Chin
  • The Kit Kat Boys
    • Victor: Andrew Etheredge
    • Bobby: Dan Cimo
    • Hans: Mahlon Raoufi
  • Sally Bowles: Nicole Foret Oberleitner
  • Clifford Bradshaw: Stevie Rice
  • Ernst Ludwig: Evan Nasteff
  • Fraulein Schneider: Jeanie Rule
  • Frauline Kost: Lanaya van Dreisen
  • Rudy: Mahlon Raoufi
  • Herr Schultz: Doug Schneider
  • Max: Andrew Etheredge
  • Gorilla: Brianne Chin

The Kit Kat Band

  • Piano: Kim Fox
  • Drums: Steve Raybould
  • Bass: Pete Dennis
  • Clarinet: Michael Goldberg
  • Accordion: Lanaya von Dreisen
  • Flute: Brianne Chin
  • Trumpet: Mahlon Raoufi
  • Boy singer: Christopher Chavez

The Crew

  • Director/ Choreographer: Penny Ayn Maas
  • Associate Director: Keith Fitzgerald
  • Musical Director: Kim Fox
  • Stage Manager: Sharon Gregory
  • Assistant Stage Manager:
  • Production Manager:
  • Set Designer: Frank Foster
  • Lighting Design: Michael Jarett
  • Associate Lighting Designer: Cody Richardson
  • Costume Design: Holly Sullivan
  • Costume Assistant: Alex Valentin
  • Dance Captain: Brian Baez
  • Sound Design: Joey Luck

Disclaimer: Richmond Triangle Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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