Divinely decadent, from cradle to tomb or opening to close, this musical is exciting, transforming entertainment. Speaking of transforming; The Crown City Theatre transformed its theater into a Kit Kat Klub, with stage side tables where we are the patrons. All the elements are set for a night of debauchery, drink, sexy girls and guys, and music at a cabaret.
The story is based on the relationships of an aspiring bi-sexual writer named Cliff Bradshaw (Phillip Pruitt) who has traveled to Berlin from America in search of inspiration when he meets Sally Bowles (Shayna Gabrielle) at a cabaret called the Kit Kat Klub. Sally ends up moving in with Cliff in a boarding house run by Fräulein Schneider (Sara J. Stuckey) whose admirer, Herr Schultz, (John Ross Clark) is a Jewish fruit-shop owner. As anti-Semitism and the Nazis are growing stronger, their carefree lives are thrown into confusion and choices.
This cast is musically talented, starting with Emcee, (Eric Sand) the buff beef cake version (Joel Grey and Alan Cumming never looked so hot) who opens the show singing "Willkommen," with a forebodingly sexualized, polished performance. He's delicious. In every scene Eric is mesmerizing.
Phillip Pruitt brings a tainted wholesomeness to the show's innocent hero. John Ross Clark and Sara Stuckey are solid as middle-aged lovers of different faiths. Sara Stuckey's engaging presence and rapport with the audience were most evident as she performed "So What" and joined in a duet of "Maybe This Time" with Shayna Gabrielle. Shayna had no easy task portraying Sally Bowles, the complicated chanteuse whose portrayal by Liza Minnelli is most recognized by the masses. Shayna's dramatic choice to play a subtle and genuine English Sally, who is conflicted and tinged with despair was refreshing on the heels of the oh so many Minnelli wannabees. Let's remember Natasha Richardson won the Tony for Cabaret as an off-key desperate Sally, and Judy Dench brought down the house with her Sally. Shayna is in good company, and may I add, is never off key with her Sally. Congratulations!
I especially enjoyed Katie DeShan as the enterprising streetwalker Fräulein Kost, Michael Marchak as a smuggling Nazi and Christopher Roque as Bobby, all with performances and vocals that were exquisite. All of the supporting cast set the bar high clearing it as if it were a sidewalk crack.
Each of those behind the scenes were able to make magic. Director Gary Lamb and Music Director William A. Reilly along with Choreographer Lisaun Whittingham are a tour de force.
Did I mention that this is a MUST SEE! It bears repeating. This is high quality, fun entertainment. Some of the content is bawdy and tawdry and may not be suitable for young children.
In closing I would like to invite you (pardon me, but you had to know it was coming) to "Come to the Cabaret ol' chum - Come to the Cabaret!"
Crown City Theatre
11031 Camarillo Street
North Hollywood, CA 91602