Friday, March 18, 2011
Germany 1930s - US Today: Anchorage Cabaret Production Comparisons
An abstract black and white train rattled across the large screen over the stage where the young American Cliff Bradshaw is being charmed by German smuggler Ernst as the ride they train toward Berlin. (See a brief clip of this in the video below)
The screen above the stage gave Director Christian Heppinstall a whole nother stage to work with and he filled it - setting the context of the scene, adding to the crowd, setting the mood, and quoting Adolf Hitler between scenes. His interpretation - reminding us that the Nazi party came into power during similar economic times as today. Just as the US suffered a humiliating attack on the World Trade Center, Germany had been humiliated after WWI. The banks were in trouble, and Jews, like Muslims today, were being used as the scapegoats. And enough of the population were willing to be enticed by nationalism to hate the outsiders and elect a tyrant. [I do know the director, but if I didn't really like it, I'd either not put up anything or I'd tell you what I had problems with. I liked this a lot.]
But all that is mostly in the background of this great musical. On stage a young cast is clearly enjoying playing their young sexy characters and they do a great job with the singing. But not all the cast is young and we have some fine performances from an older generation of actors as well.
I love that Anchorage has really talented folks who are able to put on great plays like this and pull it off on a shoestring. (Well, I'm sure it doesn't feel like a shoestring for those raising the money, but compared to Broadway productions what our local theater does with minuscule budgets is amazing.)
I'd really like to do a much more thoughtful discussion here, but I realized that it's already Friday again and Cabaret is on again this weekend through April 9 at the Wild Berry Theater. This is one not to miss - a big vibrant musical with a strong cast and great production values. And while the stadium seating gives every seat an unobstructed view and makes it feel bigger, the theater only holds about 100, so you are up close and almost part of the production.
But don't take my word for it. Check out the video. [It's worth it just to see the great kiss scene]. But remember this was taken with my pocket Canon-Powershot and the stage lighting severely challenged my automatic light meter. So I've used iMovie FX in some clips. And the sound doesn't come near to capturing it. But it does give a bit of a sense of what you'll miss if you don't go this weekend (or next.)
Audience gets to talk with the actors after the performance.