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I haven't seen it yet, and want to, but I've disliked the design concept since I first saw the publicity pictures two months ago.

It looks like a design for "Circus of the Stars" circa 1981.

Posted by michael strangeways | April 2, 2008 4:40 PM

Couldn't disagree know, I think your perspective depends on whether you've seen the show before. I never had. I had no idea what it was about, no idea it was about Nazis.

For the best part of the first act, I thought it was just some cheesy, pointless revue, and was counting down the minutes until intermission. But then, all of a sudden--holy crap, what?

For me, all the red made stark the contrast between the hedonism of the cabaret and the realism of the Nazi problem. And the shock of red in the Nazi uniform--it was as if the Nazis had surrounded the red of the cabaret with the black of their party.

The whole thing was very affecting--like I say, it may only be because I hadn't seen it before.

But if you are doing a show for people who have never seen it before (and I honestly can't imagine why you'd do anything else), the choices they made were ideal.

Posted by Seth | April 2, 2008 6:58 PM

Nick Garrison was the mad note in Twelfth Night.

Posted by Greg | April 2, 2008 9:35 PM

AND the smoking. a whole fuckton of smoking. fucking disgusting. this show sucked ass.

Posted by nothankye | April 2, 2008 11:05 PM

God, Frizzelle, you're such a fag

Posted by tree | April 3, 2008 12:31 AM

Actually, I totally agree that black and gritty would have been the better choice. And I've never seen any version before, only seen one picture of the 1998 broadway show.

Posted by RL | April 3, 2008 8:20 AM

How much do I have to pay to never have to see this thing?

Posted by Peter F | April 3, 2008 9:17 AM

I was also there on opening night, and have generally agreed with the critics - having already formed and stated my own opinions to others before the reviews came out.

The production design for this show was clearly geared toward the typical 5th Ave audience: upwardly-mobile, upper-middle class suburbanites who don't go to the theatre to be intellectually challenged, but who do enjoy the occasional bit of emotional stimulation, particularly if it's either sentimental or at most only slightly maudlin; in that regard, this rendering of "Cabaret" certainly didn't disappoint.

Overall, the show looked exactly like what it was: a rather middle-brow rendition of a well-known piece of contemporary musical theatre, given a big-budget "look" to appeal to an audience for whom eye-candy is just as important, if not more so, than more mundane concerns such as plot and performance. It LOOKED like the producers spent a huge amount of money on the show: huge flashing chaser lights, lots and lots of expensive fabric, wigs, et al - if nothing else, the audience probably left feeling that their subscription money was well-spent, because it was pretty easy to see where it all went.

It was, in short, the decadence of Weimar Germany as filtered through the contemporary touchstone of Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge", and about as analogous to the real thing, which is to say, not very.

And that's completely counter to what we should have seen.

Nobody expects an historically faithful rendition of the Berlin cabaret scene circa 1930, but this show left the audience with an even more egregiously inaccurate impression, as if it had been the equivalent of a Las Vegas style Cirque d' Soleil spectacle, instead of the gritty, impoverished "fringe theatre" milleu it actually was (this being the birthplace of the Dada movement, and presenting the earliest works of Brecht, among others). While Sam Mendes 1998 production probably went a bit too far in the other direction, portraying it as something akin to a perpetual S&M scene, this show basically "red-washed" away almost all of the essential elements of post-war German cabaret: the social and political satire, vaudeville inspired humor, low-budget production values, and a decidedly urbane sense of unshockability, and instead relied solely on the mild titilation of sexual licentiousness, as if that were the only distinguishing feature that separated early century German bohemianism from the middle-class conservatism that eventually fomented the rise of National Socialism.

Taken out of that context, the show frankly lacked the sort of "punch" one would expect at the end of the first act, when the previously hinted-at shadow of Nazi-ism becomes keenly overt; dropping a dozen 40-foot tall Nazi banners at the interval is simply a lazy, ham-fisted visual shortcut for the more shockingly effective recognition of encroaching racism that should have dawned on the audience by that point.

Posted by COMTE | April 3, 2008 10:29 AM

Comte wins. Thread closed.

Posted by michael strangeways | April 3, 2008 11:26 AM

When is the 5th going to do Springtime for Hitler?

Posted by Greg | April 3, 2008 4:05 PM

Tomorrow belongs to me, enormous penis!!!

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle's Enormous Penis | April 3, 2008 10:01 PM

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