One of the more daring productions to hit the stage of the Fox Theatre in a while is the Roundabout Theatre Company’s touring production of “Cabaret.”
Now, sure, this stark and overtly sexual version of the show has been around for nearly 25 years (and the original 25 years before that), made iconic by Alan Cumming’s decades-spanning performance as the Emcee. But now more than ever, this show has an eerie relevance as it mirrors some of the frictions in our modern world.
The show, which runs through March 19 at the Fox Theatre, tells the story of pre-WWII Berlin through the lives of the regulars at a risqué nightclub.
The plot centers on vagabond American writer Clifford Bradshaw (Benjamin Eakeley) and his relationship with libertine British showgirl Sally Bowles (Leigh Ann Larkin).
Swirling around the couple are all manner of colorful characters, including their secretive friend Ernst (Patrick Vaill), their wry, spinster landlord Fraulein Schneider (Mary Gordon Murray), and her good-natured beau Herr Schultz (Scott Robertson).
Presiding over all of this is the Emcee (Jon Peterson), who along with the scantily-clad dancers at the Kit Kat Klub (backed by the nearly-as-scantily-clad orchestra perched above the stage), do the work of a Greek chorus set to a ragtime beat as their numbers subtly comment on the characters’ lives or the rapidly-degrading political environment of a pre-war Germany.
The songs are all solid and lively (the opening number “Willkommen” effectively sets the stage for all of the tawdriness to follow), but more than anything, there is a constant tension that drives this production as the ultimate in human liberation runs headlong into the ultimate in human repression. This is a show that tackles big ideas and isn’t afraid to eschew a happy ending.
“Cabaret” runs the gambit of emotion and earns every laugh and every tear. This is a fantastic production and is not to be missed by anyone who likes their musical theater on the bolder end of the spectrum. Because like the song says, life is a cabaret, old chum; come inside and take a peek.
“Cabaret” is playing now through March 19, at the Fox Theatre. For tickets, call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.