We have no troubles here. In here, life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. The boys are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful!
Welcome to Berlin’s Kit Kat Klub, where you can forget all of your worries! The outside has no hold on you while you are in this place full of music, dancing, and love! Playing now through December 18, 2021 at Blank Canvas Theatre (BCT), this remount of the 2016 BCT production beckons you to come in, sit down, and be entertained.
Directed by Patrick Ciamacco, the audience is welcomed by the lively Emcee (Devon Turchan) and introduced to the Kit Kat Girls and Boys, followed by English headliner, Sally Bowles (Sandra Emerick). The hazy club is a place of excitement, mystery, and scantily clad performers.
New to Berlin is American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Noah Hrbek). He arrives by train, where he shares a seating area with the chatty German, Ernst Ludwig (Stuart Hoffman). Ernst insists on introducing Cliff to the city, and even provides a lead on a place to stay.
Enter Fräulein Schneider (Anne McEvoy) and her slightly shady but perfectly wonderful private rental house, occupied by all sorts of questionable folks. Cliff lucks into a “nice” room and is also introduced to Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz (John J. Polk), Fräulein Schneider’s avid admirer.
Cliff finds himself at the Kit Kat Club and is immediately drawn into the alluring world. Everything is promising in this pre-World War II time, with echoes of the dangerous politics of the era creeping closer every evening. Germany is seeing the slow rise of fascism, and those of the Jewish faith are just on the beginning edge of Hitler’s ultimate, evil wrath.
Sitting at a table, Cliff is approached by Kit Kat Boy Bobby (David Turner) – it seems as if they have a history. Cliff is also approached by the spitfire Sally Bowles, who immediately latches on to his perfect English and novelist job title. All parties say goodbye, but Sally shows up at Cliff’s room later that night after being fired from the Club, and she makes herself at home.
This meaty production is filled with pockets of substantial storylines. There is a past relationship between Cliff and Bobby, but a present complicated relationship between Cliff and Sally, which eventually implodes. There is a tender and tentative relationship between Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, which is eventually and painfully put in jeopardy because of fear. There is a business relationship between Cliff and Ernst, which comes to an angry end upon the discovery of Ernst’s true smuggling endgame. And then there’s the looming, overarching shadow of the Nazi Party, which is becoming stronger and more prevalent in Germany. But all is beautiful in the Kit Kat Club! Or is it?
Although the show is dark and maintains an air of political foreboding, the production is exciting and memorable. Famous songs including “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time” are just some of the musical repertoire of John Kander (lyrics), Fred Ebb (music), and Joe Masteroff (book). Raves go to Music Director Anthony Trifiletti and his talented band (located on two different levels upstage).
The performance is peppered with the sultry, enticing moves of Choreographer Katie Gibson. Her work with the chorus is especially impressive in the small space and proves to be both playful and visually interesting, especially with the large, splashy end poses of group numbers.
Nods to Costumer Designer Luke Scattergood for successfully tramping up the cast with both sass and class – everyone looks fantastic and on point without looking uncomfortable or skeezy (which could be hard to do when costuming a piece that takes place in a girly club).
Lights, sound, and set are also effective and appropriate. But the final kudos go to the cast for their commitment to their characters. Notable – Turchan is a mesmerizing Emcee, full of charisma and a natural ring leader. And the rapport between Fräulein Schneider (McEvoy) and Herr Schultz (Polk) is innocent, palpable, and heart-wrenching. Speaking of which, no other moment in the show is as moving as the final moment of the performance, where the cast bares all – leading to a punch to the soul that will leave patrons aghast. This is not light and fluffy theater, but is important in spreading a message of hope within any era of uncertainty.
Audiences can witness this musical theater classic now through December 18, 2021 at Blank Canvas Theatre, located at 78th Street Studios – 1305 West 78th Street, Suite 211, Cleveland, OH 44102.
TICKETS: $20.00 at http://www.blankcanvastheatre.com/
- You will be asked to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID test result taken within 72 hours of your ticketed performance, as well as a photo ID.
- Children ages 11 and younger do not need a negative COVID-19 test result to attend.
- All audience members, regardless of age or vaccination status, will be required to wear a face mask (covering both the nose and mouth) in all areas of our building and during the performance. Our front-of-house and backstage volunteers will also be masked for everyone’s safety.