I pretty much said everything I have to say about the Sam Mendes revival production of Cabaret here, when it debuted in 1998; I like it now as much as I did then, nothing of conceptual or staging consequence has changed, and really the only new observations have to do with the current cast. So if you want the fuller review, click on the link. If all you need is my take on the new actors amnd the returning star, here it is, short and sweet:
Alan Cumming as the emcee seems to have stepped out of a time capsule, showing none of the intervening 15 years in his portrayal of the Master of Ceremonies. He’s just as naughty, just as unsettling, just as charming, just as subsersive, just as dangerous.
Michelle Williams strikes me as perfectly all right as Sally Bowles, she hits all the marks and delivers the goods like a solid pro, there’s nothing to complain about; but at the same time, I don’t get the sense of the role having been imprinted with her DNA in any unique way, and thought she was painting from a palate of limited colors.
Bill Heck was a disappointment as Cliff Bradshaw for me because, with the character being very nearly a cipher, you at least want his sexual ambiguities and creative ambition to be intriguing enough colors to fill him out. Casting him as a tall, pretty, badboy leading man gives him an uncomfortable mean streak, which doesn’t quite balance with the character’s initial political naivete and sense of wonder at the magnificent and crumbling world around him.
On the other hand, Linda Emond and Danny Burstein as Frau Schneider and Herr Schultz, the older couple pursuing a doomed romance, simnply knock it out of the park withj subtlety, ease, humanity and the illusion of effortless control. Each personifies what being a great old pro is about.
As Cliff’s shady German friend and student (English lessons), Aaron Krohn is the soul of opportunistic obsequiousness; and Gayle Rankin as the sleazy-sexy prostitute Fraulein Kost is engagingly…well, sleazy-sexy, as delivered through the soil-sheeted perspective of a weary predator.
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