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Published on May 11th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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A Night at the Cabaret and College Fun

[slideshow]

By John Farrell

Cabaret, the iconic musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and book by Joe Masteroff, has had several incarnations since it took Broadway by storm nearly fifty years ago. The movie version was a huge hit and did for Liza Minelli’s career what The Wizard of Oz did for her mother Judy Garland. The stage version was very different from the film, and the recent Broadway revival was different again: much more anti-Nazi (if such a thing were possible.)

Cabaret has returned to its roots in the current production at Golden West College, and if you have a bit of trouble trying to believe that all those junior college kids are as debauched as they are supposed to be (and it is a stretch), it is still a wonderful night of songs, lead by an emcee in full make-up (the disarmingly decadent Tony Graham) who is nasty enough to enjoy himself and wise enough to show you what one section of pre-Nazi Berlin was like just as the Wiemar Republic was being smashed by the Nazi Party.

In this version, the original one according to Director Martie Ramm, the musical tells two simple stories of love destroyed by the times. One love affair is between Clifford Bradshaw (Gavin Hall) and Sally Bowles (Angele Lathrop,) the other between Fraulein Schneider (Shirley Anne Hatton) and Herr Schultz (Perry Shields.) Bradshaw and Bowles finally succumb to her unwillingness to leave performing for the joys of being a housewife, Schneider and Schultz to the rise of Nazism. He is a Hew, and she is afraid of what that will mean in the new world of Nazi politics.

The centerpiece of this is the Kit Kat Club, the cabaret where much of the story of Bradshaw and Bowles unfolds. There the dancers and singers pretend to ignore the outside world while engaging in everything from plural marriage to homosexuality. Maybe it is just that much of what was shocking in 1966 isn’t anymore, maybe it was that the chorus line, for all their deshabille, seemed innocent, but the Kit Kat Club was almost homey.

Graham was the licentious one. His face, white with make-up, and his demeanor, at once knowing and familiar, friendly and understanding, was just what the Emcee needs to tell this story. He was on the cat-walk when he was on stage, always watching as the story unfolded, and finally goose-stepping as the show ended. He was tremendous in his songs, including “Money,” still memorable forty years later Lathrop had a littke trouble staying in tune, but sang with conviction, not just an imitation of Liza.

Golden West is known for its musical programs and the on-stage musicians were outstation, led by Music Director and Conductor Rick Heckman, with effective choreography by Ramm, and an effective scenic design by Bret Engle.

Tickets are $20, $18 for senioprs and students. Performances are Friday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 13 at 2 p.m.

Venue: Golden West Theater
Location: 15744 Golden West St, Huntington Beach
Details: (714) 895-8150, www.gwctheater.com

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