It’s fantastic. I read (and wrote about) another book about Fosse many, many years ago, but this one’s even better.
I reached the section detailing the filming of Cabaret, and began thinking about the immersive, beautifully acted, and powerful production of the musical I saw at The Warehouse Theatre several years ago. I dare say it remains the definitive stage version of Cabaret for me.
There are dozens of shows that I’ve seen in local theatres that continue to stick with me, sometimes for the overall effect, sometimes simply for a few standout moments or images or performances or even just feelings. As much as I love bus and truck shows – and the touring production of Wicked remains the single most affecting theatrical experience I have ever had – there’s nothing like local theatre to stick with you for the long term.
Sadly, the review I wrote of that stellar production of Cabaret lived on a website that no longer exists. So I thought I’d dig it out of my archives and share it. Because that show was glorious.
What good is sitting alone in your room? Come to the Cabaret, old chum!
There. I had to say it, so I did.
The nice part is, I really mean it.
The Warehouse Theatre’s staging of the classic musical Cabaret opened this weekend, and it’s a rousing, gorgeous, thoughtful, and entrancing production.
The last two shows I’ve seen were touring Broadway shows. I reviewed both of them for BroadwayWorld.
School of Rock “School of Rock isn’t about plot or spectacle or insight orcharacterdepth. School of Rock is about rock and roll. About that heavy metal spirit. About stickin’ it the The Man.”
On Your Feet! “Filled with fantastic music performed by an amazingly talented cast and on-stage band, On Your Feet delivers a timely story of emotional – and physical – triumph against overwhelming odds.”
Last night I saw (for – shockingly – the first time), a production of Les Miserables. This was the current North American tour and it was pretty darned good.
One moment, at the opening of act two, Phoenix Best as Eponine sings “On My Own.” At one moment, she holds a note. The music stops. Then she stops and in otherwise utter silence, her last note echoed, resonated, lingered through the Peace Center auditorium. It was quite literally breathtaking.
I can see why people get emotionally attached to Les Miz.
Moss Hart co-wrote several classics, including You Can’t Take It With You, a play I did in high school (which reminds me of a line from the New York Times review of a recent revival: “Those who saw, or performed in, You Can’t Take It With You in high school should not let that trauma taint the Broadway revival of that show.”).
Hart also directed the original productions of My Fair Lady and Camelot, so the guy was no slouch.
This is a book that, frankly, I wish I’d read when I was young and impressionable. His drive and ambition, as well as his ability to keep going despite setbacks, is inspirational. I suspect this book resulted in a lot of people moving to NYC over the years, in pursuit of theatrical careers. But few of them had Hart’s talent or – as he would likely be the first to admit – his luck. It’s a wonderful story, well told.
I finished this afternoon and the ending is fantastic. What a story. What a life.
Frank Rich wrote this about Act One, and it encapsulates the book’s appeal: “Hart’s memoir is one of the great American autobiographies because it gives a certain kind of reader hope. It says you can escape a home where you feel you don’t belong, you can escape a town you find suffocating, you can follow a passion (the theater, but not just the theater) that is ridiculed by your peers, you can—with hard work, luck, and stamina—forge a career doing what you love. However modest or traumatic your beginnings, you can find your way to Oz—and you don’t have to go back to Kansas anymore.”
A couple of weeks ago I saw the musical Fun Home and it was terrific.
Quick back story: in early 1999, I went on a Birmingham TV news show to promote a production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile (I played Einstein in the show). In the green room, I met Miss America, Kate Shindle. She was clearly smart and quick-witted as well as friendly and charismatic and I liked her immediately. So when I saw that Kate was starring in Fun Home, I began to really look forward to seeing it. And I was not disappointed. She was fantastic and so was the show.
There are so many things to unpack, so many layers, so much truth. My close personal friend Kate is excellent. I was also impressed with the actress who played young Alison as well as the dad and the mom and the girlfriend, Joan. But more than any of them I really loved Abby Corrigan as the college-aged Alison. There’s something about her that really stands out. A fantastic performance. It’s also got a great set and lighting. It’s the kind of show I want to write a college essay about. If it comes to your town, see it.
Since this was technically still a rehearsal, it wouldn’t be fair to write a full review. But I can report that some wonderful performances anchor the production and that the audience absolutely loved it.
Paige Manwaring and David Bean head the ensemble as Molly and Sam (played in the original movie by Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze). I loved their chemistry, their emotion, and their strong, evocative voices. Honestly, they are two of my favorite local performers and they instantly won over this audience, as well. I also loved Gisele Gathings as Oda Mae Brown (the Whoopi Goldberg part) and loved to hate Joshua Thomason as Carl. Because this isn’t a real review, I’ll also share how much I enjoyed seeing Kristofer Parker in the ensemble. I worked with Kristofer in Hairspray years ago (Paige Manwaring was also in that production of Hairspray and she was the PERFECT Amber Von Tussle). I always admire the precision and energy in Kristofer’s dancing, and he demonstrated that again last night.
I went through a long period of fascination with Antarctica, especially the doomed Scott expedition. I don’t know how much of that was spurred by the 20th Century Vole motion picture and how much might have been just a natural progression from the general cuteness of penguins. In high school, I wanted to mount a production of Terra Nova, but our drama teacher just laughed at me. In the nineties, I filled out an application to join Antarctic Support Associates and become a south pole worker.
I recently finished listening to a very entertaining novel called South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby and when it was done I was glad I’d never actually mailed that application.
The book gives an insider look at pole life while also offering sharp characters and some interesting discussions of science. I had some visceral reactions (which, for good or ill, I tweeted to the author) and generally found myself eager to return to the audiobook as often as I could. I loved it.