Tuesday, February 22, the Roundabout Theatre Company brought their 50th anniversary tour of “Cabaret” to Milwaukee’s Marcus Center. “Cabaret” has had several reimaginings from the 1972 film to Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s 1998 production, which is currently touring. There was barely an empty seat opening night, and the show has continued to allure audiences as it runs now through Sunday, February 28.
“Cabaret” is a one-of-a-kind show for many reasons, but most noticeably from the start because the actors also function as the on-stage orchestra. They artfully help emphasize the music while still remaining a subtle, constant presence that doesn’t interfere with the plot.
Leading the audience throughout the evening is Randy Harrison as Emcee who fits the role so well that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing it. Harrison perfectly embodies the mischievous, suggestive, puppeteer-type character that is Emcee. He not only nails the part as an actor, but slips in and out of the scenes while embodying the role of headliner to observer to prop. He also effortlessly nails the choreography and belts out songs with incredible range in both comedic and dramatic fashion. Harrison indisputably steals the show and is reason enough to see this production.
Harrison isn’t the only well-suited cast member, however. Each and every one of the ensemble fits their roles perfectly, from Shannon Cochran as the troubled and worn Fraulein Schneider, to Mark Nelson as the optimistic romantic Herr Schultz, to Andrea Goss as the seemingly carefree starlet Sally Bowles. Goss is certainly impressive as a singer and dancer, but what really makes her stand out is how she so perfectly fits the era.
All of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s production of “Cabaret” takes you back to the 1930’s, from the line delivery to the costumes to the choreography to the set design. When you’re watching a musical set largely in a cabaret during the Nazi uprising in Germany, there’s plenty of opportunities to play with style and make an impact. There is a lot of shock value within “Cabaret” and part of the genius in this production is which elements the audience focuses on. There is plenty of titillating material side-by-side with radical political elements during one of the world’s most harrowing times. The audience is dazzled by the combination or personality, atmosphere, and complete immersion in the era, while simultaneously sinking deeper into the sobering reality of the Nazi Germany.
“Cabaret” is currently running at The Marcus Center now through Sunday, February 28. Tickets area available online or by calling 414-273-7206.