Music Theatre Montreal's version of Cabaret by John Kander and Fred Ebb
(For this Article, I've decided to write in English. Protectors of Law 101, don't be offended, please.)
Such a beautifully written Musical in such a terrible time-period, "Cabaret" takes place in the 1920's, in Berlin right in the middle of the 1st and 2nd World Wars. If you haven't seen this Musical, run to see it since you have until July 7th to do so at a reasonable price.
However, if you're debating to spend your money on another show, or if you don't care for Musicals, I'd say not to beat yourself up if you're to miss it: I was disappointed in a lot of ways from this production.
A high school production is what I would call what Musical Theatre Montreal is presenting as their version of "Cabaret".
I don't want to be harsh, but there's just a lack of direction, of subtext, of reading in between lines, of chemistry, of abandon from the actors, of taste in costumes…. And so on…
A 22 year old Jonathan Keijser directed this version of the Musical, and surprised by his age, I'd say he did a great job, but I can't really throw flowers at him since I was bored before Act 1 ended. As the director, he should have pushed further on. Actors were just playing the lines and that made the entire thing not interesting.
By playing the line, I mean asking you for a cup of coffee and thinking about that delicious cup of coffee instead of for example, thinking about kissing you while asking for a simple cup of coffee. Do you understand the difference? It gives a completely different vibe and is way more intriguing to an audience. It doesn't have to fall into seduction, it was only an example.
The chemistry between actors was okay… as high school students who all of sudden have to pretend they're in love with each other… I guess Kenny Stein as Herr Schultz and Diane Hébert as Fräulein Schneider were the worst match. I never believed one second they could have gotten married, not because of their Jewish and German nationalities, but first because of the Age difference they tried to cover up with flour on Stein's hair, and then the lack of touching and kissing between them… They somewhat did a good job at acting on their own though.
I liked the set, the way it was designed, moving all around, beautiful and simple at the same time, but I can't say so much about costumes. I thought they were conservative and boring. The girls in the cabaret were dressed too much, and women's city clothing had nothing impressive, and were not flattering. I don't like to admit that women should show their skin, but it's a freakin' cabaret!! Just by taking those rehearsal skirts off, it would have been more realistic, but still boring…
The choreography was great (Anne-Flore deRochambeau), and I'll admit any time the dancers were on stage, I was forgetting about the leads… or maybe I was just more interested in the dancers… Congrats to Roise (Michele Deslauriers), Frenchie (Marjorie Grégoire) and Texas (Victoria Maher) who kept in their own way, their lights on all through the show!
Saving the best for last, or the Leads for last… Congrats to Alisha Ruiss as the Cabaret Star Sally Bowles, for her consistency and her acting timing. She was impressive but I'm not sure she really fitted the part in the first place. She is such a strong belter, beautiful voice, and I thought this role was too easy musically for her, as she changed some melodical lines to make them more interesting to her… Also, I would have liked to see her play less innocent and more troubled by everything surrounding her as well, but that goes back to my earlier comment about subtext.
Chris Hayes did a great job as Clifford Bradshaw, the American Writer coming to Berlin to get a little inspiration. Bravo.
And finally, our Emcee of the night, Shayne Devouges who was physically surprising and amusing but could have used more his power of leader of the stage and added layers to his character instead of playing happy and sad… but overall I enjoyed his work.
I hope I won't get any haters from this, it is only my humble opinion.