Savannah Stage Co.’s production of “Cabaret” is by turns provocative, fun, horrifying and sexy. You should see it.
Director Jayme Tinti, music director Diane Houseman and choreographer Wendy Pentallo Denney have assembled so much talent and made so many strong choices that I can’t possibly hit all the high points in this short review.
The Pop Up Playhouse — an old commercial space now used as a church — makes a fitting venue for “Cabaret,” whose characters are living on the edge of personal and political upheaval amidst the decadence of Berlin around 1930.
With daring and panache, Lexi Balaoing plays cabaret performer Sally Bowles, who is always on the brink of self-destruction. Bryan Pridgen’s Cliff Bradshaw, a naïve aspiring writer from America, thinks that he can offer redemption to Sally even as he struggles with his own sexuality.
The Emcee is played by Wesley Pridgen, whose big beard, commanding presence and piercing eyes bring especially interesting qualities to the iconic role. He looks nothing like Joel Grey, that’s for sure.
Nathan Houseman lends an appropriately sinister edge to the role of Ernst Ludwig, who embodies the rise of Nazism.
The song and dance numbers are uniformly great, with each member of the ensemble having standout moments, but the actors still embrace the subtler scenes. Malinda Smith Davis as Fraulein Schneider and Gary Shelby as Herr Schultz share some especially powerful moments.
“Cabaret” takes place in a rectangular area on the floor of the theater, with seating on three sides. The audience’s proximity to the action heightens the energy, physicality and, occasionally, sheer joy of the production.
The Pop Up Playhouse sold out for the opening night of “Cabaret,” and the house was mostly full even for the Sunday matinee that I attended.
So if you hope to see “Cabaret,” you should reserve tickets in advance savannahstagecompany.com/boxoffice or 912-421-9484.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged (www.billdawers.com) and hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.