Review

Topdog/Underdog: Review

Jessica Kim

“Lean in close and watch me now… watch me now, watch me real close…” It’s almost hypnotizing listening to the two brothers as they shuffle the cards- Who will come out on top?

Topdog/Underdog, written by Suzan-Lori Parks is an Arts Club production directed by Dean Paul Gibson. Starring Micheal Blake and Luc Roderique as the ironically named brothers Lincoln and Booth, two brothers in a feud. Power dynamics. Dark secrets. Remind you of something?

Though it’s difficult to get me to stop talking about anything in relation to The Lonesome West, Topdog/Underdog was particularly reminiscent of the play, like the exposition through repetition of certain elements (Murdering their father/Lincoln playing Abraham Lincoln at the arcade) and the quirky but threatening back and forth dialogue between the brothers. They are both “dramedies” but Topdog/Underdog focuses more on the drama. While the transitions back and forth comedy and drama felt very smooth and seamless, the pacing of the exposition and the revelations (especially because some of the revelations were meant to be a “surprise”) seems a bit rushed towards the end of Act II.

This “slice of life” type of drama is evident right off the bat with the set. The brother’s apart is set up on the stage like a giant had rough-handedly ripped out the front part and the audience sees a private moment of Booth practicing hustling right away. Through their window (literally and metaphorically) we can glimpse into their lives, even the most private parts. The set, with the wallpaper resembling tarot cards, and costumes, are simple yet effective.

The actors Micheal Blake (Lincoln) and Luc Roderique (Booth) were exceptional in their own ways. Their chemistry is charming- it’s as if they are real brothers bickering, the dialogue feels natural and realistic. To be perfectly honest my brother and I don’t converse that often (we don’t even see each other that often) but when we do that’s essentially what we sound like.

The Arts Club also offers Student Rush tickets, where with a proper student ID, tickets can be bought online, over the phone or at the box office on the day of a show for only 29 dollars. Link is below!

Go check out Topdog/Underdog for some laughs and uncover dark secrets.

 

Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks is running at the Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre January 18th – February 11th. Tuesday – Thursday at 7:30 pm, Fridays & Saturdays 8 pm and matinees on Wednesdays (1:30 pm) and Saturdays & Sundays (2:00 PM).

Click here for Tickets: Or Box Office at 604-687-1644                                                            $29 Student Rush

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Almost, Maine: Review

Almost, Maine: Review

Pictured (L-R): Peter Carlone, Kim Larson, Giovanni Mocibob, Baraka Rahmani, Jalen Saip

Jessica Kim

After October hits it’s a whirlwind of holidays until suddenly it’s the new year. Halloween and Thanksgiving zipped right past me and while I’m preparing for exam weeks, it seems like the rest of the world is warming up to the holidays season. And what better way to celebrate than with a sweet, relatable rom-com anthology to warm your heart?

Almost, Maine by John Cariani is reminiscent of a couple holiday-themed films like Love, Actually and New Years Eve, but this play was a lot more subtle and, I hate to say it, wholesome. There is a scene where a character talks about whether or not to be afraid of everyday things that can potentially hurt him, but not dangerous otherwise. I was expecting the rest of the play to explore the idea further with love, and how it’s still worth it after all the pain. However, Cariani managed to keep most of them cute, relatable and light, even the ones about heartbreaks and regrets.

Pictured: Giovanni Mocibob and Kim Larson

I always have a hard time following every character’s story in anthologies, even with different actors, but I was pleasantly surprised to be following along the 18 characters pretty well with only 5 actors. Partly it was because each story was contained within itself instead of all of them happening at once, but it was highly enjoyable to see the actors change like chameleons right before my eyes.

Shoutout definitely goes to Lauchlin Johnston, the Set and Lighting Designer, whom I had the pleasure of talking to and congratulate in person after the show. The “magic realism” part really shined thanks to his spectacular, whimsical snow white set and props with paint splattered on them, hanging on the ceiling by threads. It was minimalistic yet complicated, and it brings a smile to my face thinking about them painting the props one by one and splattering paint all over it, then hanging it up on the ceiling like any yearly Christmas tree ritual.

 

Almost, Maine by John Cariani is running at the Pacific theatre November 24th – December 16th. Wednesday – Saturday at 8 pm with 2pm matinees on Saturdays.

Tickets: https://tickets.pacifictheatre.org or by phone 604-731-5518

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1190719227739516/

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Coming up for Air: Preview

Coming up for Air: Preview

Jessica Kim

Kay Meek Studio Theatre presents a one-man stage adaptation of Coming Up for Air, adapted, directed and produced by Leslie Mildiner based on George Orwell’s novel of the same name!

The award-winning [Bernard] Cuffling portrays George Bowling, an insurance salesman who makes an escape from “Hilda and the kids” in London for a few days following a win at the races. George visits his boyhood village in an attempt to recapture childhood innocence, but finds it changed beyond recognition by the effects of modern life. His feelings of loss are intensified by the threat of war looming on the horizon.

 

Coming Up for Air by Leslie Mildiner is running at the Kay Meek Studio Theatre, November 16th – 25th 7:30pm Tuesdays – Saturdays, with matinees on Saturdays 2pm. 

Tickets: https://kaymeek.com/coming-up-for-air

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/131476617479330/

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Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson: Review

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson: Review

Jessica Kim

I walked into Performance Works to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman presented by Fighting Chance Productions. Actually, not true.

I walked into the United States of America.

It wasn’t subtle at all, even outrageously so, and hilarious, like the show. The lights were red and blue and the stage within the stage was set up like a rock concert, with the band right in the middle, elevated from the rest of the set that resembled a barn, with actual sawdust and dirt on the floor. There was an American flag sticking out of Andrew Jackson’s pocket. There were banners with stars on them and even the solo cups the actors were holding were red and blue. I didn’t even know these things came in colours other than red.

Considering the fact Andrew Jackson was a terrible, murderous president, the musical is funny. Director Ben Bilodeau says that “[It] is a Wolf-in-Sheep’s-clothing of a show.” The dark truth about North American history is disguised with satire and comedy. The audience roar with laughter as the show plays with expectations and the comedy is refreshing and with pleasant surprises.

Artistic Director Ryan Mooney describes the show as “Green Day meets Hamilton” and it’s true, the music is very catchy and enjoyable. There is a reason, though, other than the subject of Andrew Jackson being somewhat controversial, that Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson isn’t Hamilton. Though the actors do a splendid job delivering the sharp satire, the pattern is evident and simply repeats itself. It gets old and predictable fairly quickly. The absurdity of it all is hilarious, but after a few scenes emphasizing how terrible Jackson was, it is hard to grasp the point of the whole story. Especially towards the end it’s uncertain what the playwright is trying to say, and the attempt to have the audience emphasize with Jackson falls flat.

The connections to Trump with the posters with a red cap and the sign, “Make America Great” is appreciated along with other fantastic directional and production choices. Putting the band centrestage is a risk, but with appropriate lighting the audiences’ attention is properly guided. It is impressive that there were little to no sound problems considering the guitars with amps built into them and the loud music in general.

It’s amazing that these talented actors can also play various instruments. Daniel Berube as Andrew Jackson is sprightly and his voice suits the music. Notable performances are Annastasia Brown and her chilling performance of “Ten Little Indians” and Christine Roskelley (Storyteller) and Thomas Chan(James Monroe), their quirky and unique acting brings life to the stage.

Overall, the writing of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a questionable, but is produced and performed extremely well.

 

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman is running at the Performance Works October 27th- November 11th 8pm, with matinees on Saturday and Sundays 2pm. 

Tickets: http://www.fightingchanceproductions.ca/

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1979024655703169/

 

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Jesus Christ Superstar: Review

Jesus Christ Superstar: Review

Jessica Kim

It’s the set the audience first sees when they walk in. It sets them up for the show. When I walked into the Centennial Theatre for URP’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar (music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice), the set was reminiscent of the biblical times, complete with pillars and a set of stairs which sat in front of the band. Yet there was, right in the center of stage, a cross made out of trusses. This was going to be interesting.

The director Richard Berg stated that “[They] are really highlighting the ‘rock’ part of ‘rock opera’.” It really shows. The musical starts out with the guitar and bass players Michael Agranovich and Devon Clarke onstage, with lighting resembling that of a rock concert, with solid blocks of colour and heavy shadows of the guitarist on the translucent screen.

Also the distinction between rock musical and rock opera is interesting. Jesus Christ Superstar is always described as rock opera opposed to musical. URP’s previous production, RENT, is a rock musical. What makes these two so different? Like opera, Jesus Christ Superstar is based on a well known story. There is no need for the plot to be completely clear to the audience. This show is more about the emotions of the characters rather than what happens. Everyone already knows what happens. Because of this a lot is expected from the actors. The “gender-blind” casting is interesting, ending up with a lot of female actors taking up the traditionally masculine roles. However, it was a little straining for the ears with the lack of baritone and bass vocals. Judas is played by Ali Watson in this production, and she is exceptional. Her performance is powerful and breathtaking. Nick Heffelfinger as the title role flaunts his impressive vocals as well.

Unfortunately the sound system was extremely loud. It may have been a nod to actual rock concerts, but it was jarring and distracting.

Notable performances are the Tormentors Kenneth Lai, Emma Schellenberg, Chantelle Ward, and Jennifer Lynch. They are the literal embodiment of inner emotional conflicts such as guilt and despair, and because the emotional aspect is so emphasized in this production, they are extremely effective. They are dressed and painted as roman statues at the temple, and while they stay silent the entire time, their energy and movement is evident, even in still poses. The choreography is haunting and jarring when need be.

Overall the production was very well put together with such a small cast, and it seems like there is a certain charm about this musical that has URP come back to it again and again, holding a special place in their hearts as the very first production they’ve done back in 1995.

 

Jesus Christ Superstar runs October 31st – November 5th, Tuesday – Saturday at 8pm and Sunday Matinee at 2pm. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.urp.ca

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/117045558964970/

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Victoria: Review

Victoria: Review

Sebastian Ochoa Mendoza

I had never travelled so far to catch a work of theatre before. The Massey Theatre is located about two cities over from Vancouver, in what appeared to be a High School. When I opened the front door to find a High School gym, I insisted that we must’ve been in the wrong place. But alas, we arrived to the theatre, instantly impressed with the quality of the space. The theatre wasn’t very full at all, I’d say less than half of the seats were sold, and, after having seen Dulcinea Langfelder & Co’s Victoria, this is terribly unfortunate.

Victoria, starring veteran actress Dulcinea Langfelder and Éric Gingras, is about an elderly woman in a wheelchair, ranting and talking and interacting with the objects around her, be it the chair, the set, the audience, even her own shadow. I don’t know enough about the conditions the elderly suffer to be able to accurately describe what was happening in the protagonist’s head behind all of her silly antics. As a result, I wouldn’t exactly be able to say if the setting was a hospital for the old, the mentally disabled or the ill. I would have attended the Q&A if it weren’t such a hassle getting back to Vancouver at that hour. The only other character in the show was her nurse, a large European man who is driven crazy by Victoria throughout the production. When I realised the whole play was of a woman sitting alone on her wheelchair, talking to herself and to the audience, I was skeptical towards my enjoyment. I love plays that are confined to one set and a few characters, but for it to be held mostly by just one actress seemed almost impossible to be entertaining from beginning to end. Not only was it just that, but it was also simultaneously endearing and tragic at the same time. We watch in amazement as this sixty-two year-old woman does incredible tricks on her wheelchair, keeping it up in a wheelie for a good three minutes, and stuns us with her angelic singing voice and dancing. One highlight was when she turned her hospital garment into a cocktail dress, and showcasing her 1960’s glamour. Another was when the nurse carries her body around as he dances to Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek”, making Victoria’s body dance along with him as she gives out a deadpan expression. Truly remarkable.

The setting was very well done. It was a number of white curtains, laid out across the stage, being moved from place to place to change the space from scene to scene. At times they were pushed to the side to make a lot of space for the actors to sing and dance, while in other scenes the stage would be cut in half, and the characters would subsequently interact with the sheets. Often times, a curtain on the stage would work as a backdrop for the characters’ shadows. Images of their shadows would be projected onto the curtain, so they could have a life of their own. For instance, in one scene, as Victoria would stay seated, her shadow would be standing on the wheelchair, so we could peek inside and explore the mind of this fascinating woman.

There were a few hiccups here and there that took the audience out of the moment. The human eye is very quick to find synchronization problems, so whenever the actors would be trying to completely mimic the projected shadow’s actions, it only made it more obvious that the shadow was projected and not natural. Langfelder was better at this than Gingras, but not quite good enough to make it a flawless illusion. Though this would be hard to prevent, I would say the effect should only be used in shadow-heavy scenes. There’s an early scene in which Victoria mimics the projected shadow for a few minutes, the shadow only doing its own thing at the very end, and barely. For a scene like that, I wouldn’t say it was a cool enough effect to be worth two minutes of the audience thinking “Well that shadow’s fake”. Even worse, the projector showed us a PC desktop for a split second before projecting the shadow, which drew me right out. In other scenes, especially those in which Victoria is seen playing and interacting with the curtains, I was never really sure when something was supposed to happen, if a curtain was supposed to get stuck to her wheelchair. Or in another scene, if Victoria was meant to have dropped the nurse’s flashlight. That being said, when doing basically a one-woman show with that amount of props and set pieces, mistakes are inevitable, and if those instances mentioned were mistakes, the actors played them off very well. Langfelder, needless to say, was brilliant in the role. She’d have to be if this show had any hope of being any good. We sympathise with her, we laugh with her, we cry with her. A phenomenal actress, and a flawless performance. When Gingras’ character first appeared, I was worried about his part in the whole thing. His entrance seemed a tad over-dramatic, with a very ‘50s sitcom “What have you done this time?” look to the audience. After seeing the show, the perfect word I think I’d use to describe him is endearing. His performance was endearing; above all the trouble she puts him through, it’s clear he truly cares for Victoria, just as I’m sure the actors care about each other in real life.

Victoria is a beautiful production that shouldn’t be missed. I took two buses and a train to get all the way back to UBC, and I held a smile for pretty much all of it.

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The Lonesome West: Review

The Lonesome West: Review

Pictured: John Voth and Kenton Klassen. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Jessica Kim

Whenever I walk into the Pacific theatre it’s always a peculiar experience. As I walk across the very stage the actors will stand on to find my seat, I wonder what it feels like to be watched from (almost) all directions, even the back of your head, sides and places you don’t want to show. It’s scary but exciting.

The Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh at the Pacific theatre is a guest production by Cave Canem, directed by Evan Frayne. Set in the Irish hamlet of Leeane, Coleman and Valene, brothers living in their recently deceased father’s house, are constantly at each other’s throats. Will father Welsh’s attempts to rekindle some sort of brotherly love in their hearts be in vain?

The set is homely but eye-catching. The small stage is economically utilized and with some lighting magic, the kitchen turns into various other locations. There is amazing attention to details. There are holes in their socks, tiny little breakable props they have boxes of in the back, and subtle music and sounds in several scenes. The rock music in between scenes is jarring and unsettling, as unfitting as the violent and strange brothers in this quiet rural town.

The pre-show Irish music gets the audience in the mood, and when the “curtain rises” we are hit with Irish accents, dialects and slang. It took me a few minutes to understand what was going on and that “feck” is the equivalent of the f-word in Ireland. We meet Coleman (Kenton Klassen) first, talking to father Welsh (Sebastien Archibald), coming back from the funeral of Coleman’s father, whom he had accidentally shot in the head. Valene (John Voth) walks in and immediately the brothers start bickering and fighting. The actors have fantastic chemistry and their banter and stage fight is believable. I want to give a shoutout to the Fight Director Josh Reynolds for making the amazing stage fights happen and keeping everyone safe. It’s extremely childish, reminding me of fights I used to have with my brother.  But something’s very off here- adults shouldn’t be fighting like this.

Pictured: John Voth and Kenton Klassen. Photo by Matt Reznek.

The story unfolds and though the plot is quite dark, the play manages to keep it light and we find ourselves laughing at murder, suicide and hatred, the absurdity of it all, the strange, crazy brothers. The best cure for the unknown, of course, is comedy. The writing of this play is impressive primarily as a comedy but also as drama. There are no wasted lines or jokes that are carelessly tossed away. They are mentioned again and ends meet. A comedic element in the first act comes back as an essential plot point in the second act. Nothing is wasted.

Burning with legitimate passionate hatred towards each other, they have constantly been trying to “one up” each other, but as they become older and more capable of doing more and more horrible and unacceptable deeds, things get out of hand. I found myself audibly sighing at times, wanting to grab them by the shoulders and shout “Grow up already!” Which, essentially, is how the good father Welsh feels. Notable performance is by Sebastien Archibald, who plays the ever-doubting priest. His performance is powerful, not only because of his projection with the yelling and screaming, but also his passion and beliefs in the human race and love carries through his manner and actions towards the brothers.

But all this falls flat to them. Did something go so wrong fundamentally between the brothers, and can nothing be fixed? Can anything be changed? It feels as if the protagonist of this play in reality is Valene, the only character that changes, even if it is just slightly. Girlene (Paige Louter) simply doesn’t have the chance and the naive priest never learns. Coleman is simply the awful person he is, was, and will be. Act 1 and the show itself both ends with Valene standing in the kitchen of their grimy rural home, with black Vs plastered all over the house, bold and threatening. But opposed to the intermission, Valene is facing the Christ on the cross, the meticulously placed figures of the virgin, and he’s much more somber. Then darkness- but not before, for a fraction of a second- a small spotlight on Jesus and the letter- and perhaps, a flicker of hope.

 

The Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh is running at the Pacific theatre October 20th – November 11th. Wednesday – Saturday at 8 pm with 2pm matinees on Saturdays.

Tickets: https://tickets.pacifictheatre.org or by phone 604-731-5518

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1979024655703169/

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Preview: Jesus Christ Superstar – URP

This Halloween, URP brings us Jesus Christ Superstar at the Centennial Theatre. It’s a 70s rock opera with music by Andrew Llyod Wbber and lyrics by Tim Rice.  Focusing on the character of Judas, by Ali Watson, the sung-through musical has sprinkles of the 1970s as well. In this production directed by Richard Berg, the title role is played by Nick Heffelfinger.

As Jesus Christ Superstar has been produced twice already by URP in 1995 and 2004, the cast will be much smaller in this production and attention is on the fact that Judas, Pilate and Herod are all played by women.

“Typically the cast is much larger than that. We have also approached the casting in a non-traditional manner. We held open auditions and cast the strongest actor/singers we could for each role, regardless of gender.” says URP producter/director Richard Berg. “The result is that while Jesus and Mary are traditionally cast, many of the traditionally male roles are being played by female actors. We are not trying to make any big political statement or anything like that. We simply want to tell the story in an exciting and entertaining way with the best performers we could get.”

While the production is not gender-bent, there is much anticipation for the three women that fit the roles perfectly and their commendable performance.

 

Jesus Christ Superstar is running October 31st – November 5th at 8pm with a manitee on November 4th at 2pm

Buy Tickets: http://www.urp.ca/theatre#jcs

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/189206894952997/

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Review: Cabaret – Tomo Suru Players

Review: Cabaret – Tomo Suru Players

Sebastian Ochoa Mendoza

I entered Club XY with an instant curiosity of the performance to come. A six-piece band sat
on my left as I entered, on my right the seating area, and to my front a large bar. I ordered an
ounce of Irish whiskey and found my seat.

I had never seen a production of Cabaret before, though I was somewhat familiar with a few
of the numbers, including “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time”, a favourite of mine. It wasn’t
until I saw the poster for this production that I realised it had to do with Nazism, so I went into the
show completely intrigued of what was to come.

For those who are aware of the musical, they’ll know that the Emcee plays a large role,
without much establishment of who he is as a character, his purpose in the show being to get us
in the mood of a pre-World War II Berlin, and the world of Cabaret. He opens the show, to no
surprise, and hits us with an immediately note-worthy performance by Gil Yaron. I’m no German,
or linguist for that matter, but not once did I question the validity of his German accent. It
sounded over-the-top, but so was he, an incredibly expressive man who brought laughs and
excitement to the crowd with the opening number. His performance remained just as strong
throughout, always engaging with the audience and keeping us entertained past some of the
duller moments.

The opening number, “Willkommen”, was very much held together by Yaron’s energy. It
could have been the sound, or the great distance between the band and the stage, but the vocal
power of the opening was underwhelming. I can’t say whether this was specific to the opening
number, or perhaps by the second number I had gotten used to the discrepancy between music
and vocals, but this was one of two issues I had noticed by this point of the show.

The second issue I had noticed in the opener was the ensemble. Most of them, with one
noticeable exception, felt like they didn’t really want to partake in the whole song and dance.
Their bodies followed the choreography properly, as far as I could tell, but their faces seemed
unamused, in clear juxtaposition to the excitement of the Emcee. The noticeable exception was
Helga, a chorus member with two ponytails, whose energy stood on par with that of Yaron. Each
of the four women in the ensemble known as the Kit Kat Girls, which included the talented Krista
Aggerholm as Helga, had their personal charm. The entire bar was used as part of the stage, so
when one of the girls would sing by my chair, it was quickly apparent that they each had a
beautiful voice. Throughout the show, their personalities shone through in different scenes, such
as in one number, where one of the girls (I couldn’t tell whom) played the part of a monkey quite
brilliantly, definitely a comedic highlight of Cabaret. With that being said, it was disappointing to
see a number of songs being energised in most part by Aggerholm, who wasn’t without a couple
of fallings out of character here and there.

We move on, then, to meet Cliff, our fish-out-of-water American in a visit to Berlin to
perhaps be inspired by the city for his next novel. The actor, a Maxwell Smith, definitely looked
the part of Cliff, seeming almost like a fish-out-of-water in the cast. While the members of the
cabaret, including the Emcee and Cliff’s future lover Sally Bowles, danced around him, grabbed
his butt, and acted appropriately eccentric around him, Smith couldn’t help but smile, be
uncomfortable, act dismissive when even his dialogue didn’t call him to do so. He was, clear as
day, not as invested in this production as the rest of the cast. While the others went out of their
ways to act eccentrically and fully commit to their roles, Smith found it sufficient to act the way he
felt and be himself, without putting much effort into his performance. His same sense of unease
and confusion carried throughout Cabaret, even as his character supposedly develops into a
confident player of the Berlin lifestyle. To the actor’s credit, he did sing rather well, and he was
definitely believable in some of the more dramatic scenes. The actor has a lovable quality to him
that was clearly what got him cast as Cliff. I liked him, I liked the actor, and I felt sympathetic to
his character. In other dramatic scenes, however, he appears to play simply an angrier version of
himself, this being the case in a scene in the second act where he confronts Ernst Ludwig, the
show’s resident Nazi, who ironically is also introduced in the same train scene where we meet
Cliff.

I say ironically, because among the main cast, with perhaps the exception of the Emcee,
John Ennis Graham’s performance as Ludwig is the show’s most commendable, carrying pretty
much every scene he was in. His performance was reminiscent of Christoph Waltz who plays a
Nazi in the Tarantino flick Inglorious Basterds, for which he won an Academy Award. I wouldn’t go
so far as to say that Graham’s performance is on par with that of Waltz, but the fact that I can
compare the two says much about the quality of Graham’s acting. He was entirely sympathetic
for much of the first act, and the moment he was revealed to be a Nazi, the rage once withheld
clicks as he yells that a certain Jew wasn’t German, and I was instantly terrified of his character.
Fantastic acting. If I had any issue with the character of Ludwig, it would be the hand-made Nazi
band on his arm, which looked fine from afar, but childish when Graham would roam past the
audience. And regarding the Nazi band, a mistake on the director’s part, Gerald Williams, was
having Ludwig wear the band for every subsequent scene after it is revealed that he is a Nazi. If
he never wore it prior to the closing of the first act, there’s no reason for him to wear it willy-nilly
for the rest of the show. This and the character of Sally carrying a bottle of gin everywhere were
Williams’ only decisions that took me out of the realistic drama of Cabaret. Everything else, as far
as Williams’ work is concerned, was pretty great.

We then follow Cliff to a scene in which he rents out an apartment from landlady Fräu
Schneider, played by Jacqollyne Keath. Overall, her performance was quite fantastic. She
appeared to be the oldest member of the cast, which is perhaps why she played the part so
convincingly. Her dialogue was always spot-on, and though she performed her songs well,
Cabaret’s second number, “So What?”, was a tad lacklustre. Again, she performed it well, but her
voice trailed and faded so many times that it was hard to keep up with the lyrics. She had a
powerful voice, but was afraid to utilise it. This was a number that required energy, and she didn’t
quite bring it, unfortunately. Though this continued to partially be the case with her duet part in “It
Couldn’t Please Me More (A Pineapple)”, the intrinsic quietness and subtlety to her voice
belonged well to the numbers “Married” and “What Would You Do?”, the latter being easily one of
the strongest parts of Cabaret. Her vocal and acting performance in that number brought tears to
my eyes. With the exception of the minor issues in her earlier singing parts, Keath’s performance
was consistently strong throughout, and it was a joy to see her in every scene in which she
appeared.

We are then introduced to Herr Schultz, the Jewish-German and Fräu Schneider’s love
interest. Schultz was played by Charlie Deagnon, and rather well. What was apparent by the
casting decisions was that the actors were chosen for the strength of their vocals. In every flaw I
witnessed in the performances of Cabaret, I could always praise the singing. Fortunately,
Deagnon’s acting was pretty great. It was a bit odd to see him falling in love with the noticeably
older Keath, making the pineapple song seem a bit out of place, but the two played their parts so
well that after that number, I was completely convinced that I wanted the two to end up together.
Deagnon’s German accent was probably the weakest among the main cast, but he played his
part sympathetically, which resulted in me caring a lot more about their love than the story of Cliff
and Sally.

We’re then introduced to Sally Bowles, British performer at the Kit Kat Club, played by
Sarah Seekamp. Now, as little as I knew about Cabaret going into the show, one thing of which I
was made aware was that Sally Bowles is one of the iconic female roles in the history of
Broadway. I did not get this impression in the Tomo Suru Players production. Don’t get me wrong,
as far as I’m concerned, Seekamp’s performance of Sally was fairly strong. She commanded the
stage in many of her scenes and numbers, my favourite being her intoxicated performance of
“Cabaret” at the end of the second act. Sally is written to be quite a frustrating character, always
aloof and inconsiderate. What I imagine is the character’s appeal on the Broadway stage is the
sympathy you end up feeling for her. I did not feel much sympathy for Sally in this rendition of
Cabaret, which was perhaps my main flaw with Seekamp’s performance. Otherwise, she
enunciated, she sang rather well, she consistently performed with energy, allowing for the show
to keep me entertained for its entire runtime. She is a strong performer, but I didn’t love her
character, and that must’ve been her fault. She seemed mismatched with Cliff, their chemistry not
really interesting me as much as that of Schultz and Schneider. There was always something
uneven going on in any scene with Sally and Cliff, and it was unfortunately my biggest criticism
with the show, because it’s supposedly the plot line we’re supposed to follow the closest.
Thankfully, the script didn’t dwell too much on their not-so-romance, as convincing as Seekamp’s
performance was. Not as convincing, her British accent.

The first act, overall, was quite strong. Many of my criticisms were nitpicks, to be fair, and
the fact that I enjoyed myself as much as I did is a testament to the directing, the impeccable
lighting design, the flawless orchestra, and the increasingly energetic performances of the
ensemble and the leads. One weakness I haven’t yet mentioned of the first act was the
unevenness of a few numbers. “Two Ladies” could have been very strong had it not been for the
consistently deadpan performance of Max Hall as one of the ensemble members. Physically, he
suit the role of Bobby –– strong voice, handsome face –– but he often needed the encouragement
of some of the energetic Kit Kat Girls for him to finally appear as if he was enjoying himself.
Otherwise, he never really seemed like he wanted to be there. When given lines as Bobby,
however, he played his part well, engaging in a racy scene with Cliff, whose make-out session
with Bobby was undeniably the most convincing part of his performance. Another surprisingly
underwhelming number from the first act was Seekamp’s rendition of “Maybe This Time”. To be
completely fair, I had high expectations, as it’s one of my favourite Broadway solo numbers,
period. But unfortunately, as committed as she was to her performance, her voice cracked quite a
bit, and the song lacked the strength it deserved. I could tell it wasn’t just me when I noticed that
the audience’s applause for this number was perhaps even weaker than the applause given to the
Emcee after “Money”, a much less memorable song on paper. Being fair, I did watch one of the
last performances of Cabaret, and with eight days of performance past her, it’s understandable
that her singing isn’t quite as strong as it might’ve been at the start of the show’s run.

A definite highlight of the first act, twelve-year-old Jian Ross’ performance as a Nazi youth
member. Her song was brilliant, her voice angelic, and I got emotional seeing the tears in her
eyes. A wonderful actress, definitely a talent with a bright future ahead. Another highlight, the
performance of Stefanie Stanley as Fraulein Kost. Though I didn’t quite see the point of her
character to the story, she had quite a few singing parts throughout the show, and Stanley played
her impeccably. I could not think of a single flaw to her performance. If I hadn’t known better, I’d
say she could have been an actress taken straight from the Broadway show. The scenography,
the placement of the characters throughout Club XY, much of the strength of Cabaret is thanks to
the director and to the talented crew. They put on a great show.

The second act started strong, with solo performances by each of the orchestra members.
An excellent touch, as the trumpet, sax and guitar soloists roamed the audience and showed off
their talent.
Every single number of the second act was incredibly strong. From the emotional solo
songs of Schultz and Schneider to Sally’s drunken “Cabaret”, the soloists gave it their all in the
second act, nicely summing up the show as a whole. One big highlight of the act, other than
Keath’s previously mentioned rendition of “What Would You Do?”, was the Emcee pulling out his
dramatic acting chops in “I Don’t Care Much”. He commanded that song, and for the first time in
the show, I realised how truly talented the actor was. It’s easy to be an engaging Emcee when
you have as much energy as Yaron, but to sing with as much heart is no small feat. The actor can
sing, and his rendition of “I Don’t Care Much” was deeply moving.
After such strong performances by Graham, Keath and Deagnon, I found it hard to care
much about Cliff and Sally’s story. A pregnancy scare, a runaway trip back to Pennsylvania, none
of it was all that interesting when compared to the true heartbreak felt by the Nazi/Jew storyline
through the performances of the actors involved.

The second act was short and sweet, and thankfully so, because the more drama-heavy
scenes could easily have brought the show to a lull. By the time the Emcee was bidding us all
farewell, I sat completely satisfied with Cabaret. The Kit Kat Girls had become more confident as
the show went on, and the numbers had become more consistently excellent. I left the club with a
new contender for my all-time favourite musical. In every respect, the strengths of the show
outweighed the weaknesses; a solid effort on stage as well as behind the scenes.

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Preview: Cabaret – Tomo Suru Players

Preview: Cabaret – Tomo Suru Players

Hello, Players!

Midterms are here, there’s SOMETHING due everyday, the school is going to sink if it continues to rain like this.

Soooooooooo, why not procrastinate by going to a show? Great idea. Good job, me! (high-fives myself) Jokes aside, don’t miss your chance to see Cabaret presented by Tomo Suru Players!

Cabaret is a broadway musical based on a book by Christopher Isherwood with music by John Kander and Lyrics by Fred Ebb. (Chicago, Curtains)

This production is directed by Gerald Williams, music directed by Jeremy Hoffman and Choreographed by Lyndsay Britten.

Here’s what they have to say:

“In a Berlin nightclub, as the 1920’s draw to a close, a garish Master of Ceremonies welcomes the audience and assures them they will forget all their troubles at the Kit Kat Club. With the Emcee’s (Gil Yaron) bawdy songs as wry commentary, Cabaret explores the dark, heady, and tumultuous life of Berlin’s natives and expatriates as Germany slowly yields to the emerging Third Reich. Cliff (Max Smith), a young American writer newly arrived in Berlin, is immediately taken by English singer Sally Bowles (Sarah Seekamp). Meanwhile, Fräulein Schneider (Jacqollyn Keath), proprietor of Cliff and Sally’s boardinghouse, tentatively begins a romance with Herr Schultz (Charlie Deagon), a mild-mannered fruit seller who happens to be Jewish. Musical numbers include “Willkommen,” “Cabaret,” “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Two Ladies.”

Rounding out the cast is Stefanie Stanley as Fräulein Kost, John Ennis Graham as Ernst Ludwig, Maddison Simms as Rosie, Sarah Moir as Frenchie, Terran Milne as Lulu, Krista Aggerholm as Helga, Max Hall as Bobby and Vince Kanasoot as Victor.”

Club XY 1216, Bute Street

Oct 12th – 14th & Oct 19th – 21st 7pm

Oct 14th – 15th & Oct 21st – 22nd 3pm

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/399553980392517/

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