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PlayMakers Repertory Company Creates a Version of “Cabaret” That’s Unforgettable

Broadway veteran Lisa Brescia (center) will star as the Kit Kat Klub's star attraction, the divinely decadent English diva Sally Bowles, in "Cabaret" (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Broadway veteran Lisa Brescia (center) will star as the Kit Kat Klub’s star attraction, the divinely decadent English diva Sally Bowles, in “Cabaret” (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Who doesn’t love Cabaret? First-time viewers of the show and long-time loyalists alike are sure to enjoy PlayMakers Repertory Company’s spin on the classic. Directed by Joseph Haj and based on the late-90s Broadway version of the play, this production brings the raunchy Berlin of the 1930s to full and glorious life. Swinging choreography, daring costumes, and an enchanting cast create a performance that’s zany and fun but also poignant and deeply sad.

All of the onstage action is regulated by the Emcee (Taylor Mac), and it would not have been possible for PRC to find a better person for this complex acting job than Mac. He is funny, wonderfully obscene, perfectly androgynous, and even a little sexy in the role but, where the script calls for it, he is not afraid to push the show’s saddest moments to the limit.  Mac quite literally charms audiences by springing surprise interactions on them, and his performance of “Two Ladies” is, by itself, worth the cost of admission.

Aside from all of the craziness provided by the Emcee and what goes on at the Kit Kat Club, the story focuses on young Cliff Bradshaw (John Dreher), an American who arrives in Berlin and finds himself drawn to sultry and not-so-innocent lounge singer, Sally Bowles (Lisa Brescia). Dreher takes a star turn by effectively portraying Bradshaw’s sweet naiveté, and Brescia positively sizzles with her powerful voice and easy command of the stage. Never ones to disappoint, both Dee Dee Batteast and Kelsey Didion add to the show’s charm in their respective double roles of Texas/Chanteuse and Fraulein Kast/Fritzie.

Unforgettable music, fabulous costumes, and a “Rocky Horror” energy with serious undertones combine to create a version of Cabaret that’s totally unique and definitely worth watching.

PlayMakers Repertory Company CABARET, starring Taylor Mac as The Emcee, at 7:30 p.m. April 10-12, 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 13, 2 p.m. April 14, 7:30 p.m. April 16-19, 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 20, and 2 p.m. April 21 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

TICKETS: $20-$40, except $15 per general-admission ticket on Tuesday Community Nights, $10 for UNC students, and $12 for all other students. (Click here for discounts for UNC faculty/staff and active-duty military personnel and their families.

BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY (7529) or http://playmakersrep.org/tickets/single.

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-843-2311, miwashin@email.unc.edu, or http://playmakersrep.org/tickets/groupsales.

SHOW: http://www.playmakersrep.org/cabaret.

PRESENTER: http://www.playmakersrep.org/. BLOG: http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.

VENUE: http://www.playmakersrep.org/aboutus/paulgreen.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.playmakersrep.org/visitorinfo.

NOTE 1: There will be two FREE discussions with members of the show’s creative team (designers, actors, and production personnel) after the show’s April 10th and 17th performances.

NOTE 2: There will be a special $8.50-per-student Student Matinee Performance at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, April 12th. For details, click http://www.playmakersrep.org/outreach/matinees.

NOTE 3: At 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13th, there will be an Open-Captioned Performances. For details, click http://www.playmakersrep.org/outreach/allaccess/opencaption.

NOTE 4: Arts Access, Inc. (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) of Raleigh will audio-describe an All-Access Performance at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16th, which will also feature sign-language interpretation and Large-Print and Braille programs and — if requested in advance by e-mail to whitneywhite@unc.edu — a tactile tour of the set. For details, click http://www.playmakersrep.org/outreach/allaccess.

NOTE 5: At 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 20th, and 2 p.m. on Sunday April 21st, the N.C. Psychoanalytic Foundation (http://www.ncpsychoanalysis.org/), the Lucy Daniels Foundation ( http://ldf.org/), and the N.C. Psychoanalytic Society (http://www.ncpsasoc.org/) will sponsor FREE post-show 50-minute “Mindplay” discussions, led by , who will speak on “Conflict: A Dark Musical in a Fun Package.” For details, click http://www.ncpsasoc.org/images/Mindplay2012-13.pdf.

OTHER LINKS:

Goodbye to Berlin (1939 short novel): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodbye_to_Berlin”> (Wikipedia).

Christopher Isherwood (novelist): http://isherwoodfoundation.org/ (Christopher Isherwood Foundation) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Isherwood (Wikipedia).

I Am a Camera (1951 play): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_a_Camera (Wikipedia).

John Van Druten (playwright): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Van_Druten (Wikipedia).

Cabaret (1966 original musical): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabaret_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia) and http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=3348 (Internet Broadway Database).

John Kander (composer): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kander (Wikipedia).

Fred Ebb (lyricist): http://www.fredebbfoundation.org/ (Fred Ebb Foundation) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Ebb (Wikipedia).

Joe Masteroff (playwright): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Masteroff (Wikipedia).

Cabaret (1972 film): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabaret_%28film%29 (Wikipedia), and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068327/ (Internet Movie Database).

Cabaret (1998 Broadway revival): http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=4848 (Wikipedia).

Joseph Haj (director) http://www.playmakersrep.org/performances/embed_artist.aspx?id=15b43fe8-a162-4c03-9218-ac7ebe7fd3a4 (PlayMakers Repertory Company bio).

Taylor Mac (actor) http://taylormac.net/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/taylor.mac.505 (Facebook page).

Lisa Brescia (actress): http://www.lisabrescia.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Brescia (Wikipedia), https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Brescia/299932653350638 (Facebook page), and http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=76170 (Internet Broadway Database).

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews