Monday, February 27, 2012

breaking legs (a review)

My biggest worry is that someone will take offense to something I write. I worry more than a person should at the best of times. Suck it up butter cup (that's directed at me).
Some spoiler-ish things may be found here. Just go see the show. (edit: I didn't credit most of the cast and crew- I'll get that fixed later Plus, this is a blog- I don't use last names.)

Every year I get pissed off that no one gives an actual review of the show. T
here's this guy who sometimes writes them- and he gets really hung up on stupid things. Here goes nothing.. my first review.

Friday night I took in the opening night of
Northumberland Players production of Cabaret.

The show....

It was Lovely.Flashy.Sexy.Gender Bluring.Painfilled.Beautiful.Dirty.Smart.Sweet.Shocking.Sad.

NP puts on shows with a fraction of a budget, and a fraction of the pool of "talent" to draw from- but this doesn't keep them from consistently producing shows on par or better than those I'd pay to see in the big city.

Directed by Jack and Shannon, the blocking in this show was fantastic, as was Alina's choreography... those poor "Kit Kat girls" and their kick line dance... I was out of breath watching them- but they made it through and still held their poise afterwards- it was a complicated little number, I was so proud of them! The opening piece "willkommen" was a treat- and had the whole audience excited (and maybe a little uncomfortable?) about what was to come. After being in a few shows- I really appreciated why people were placed where they were on stage, and how they moved within those spaces. A few times I said to myself "oh, I like the way they look standing in that configuration".

There were also some really cute numbers that made the whole audience chuckle with glee. "Two Ladies" was one of those, it just had some smart little moves in it that the Emcee and the two Kit Kat girls pulled off really well. Another was the Telephone song, oh! The Money number was fabulous too. A nod to the kit kat boys and the rest of the company in those bigger numbers- I loved how much attention to detail there was in creating each of your characters! Good job folks! I loved watching your faces in these pieces- how your characters interacted with each other, and how each person was unique.

The Master of Ceremonies... oh Michael. You're beautiful.

He was perfectly cast in that role. I did want to punch a number of the audience members who couldn't get past the fact they weren't sure of his gender (and kept having debates about it while he was up there being magical...), but that was all part of the balance needed for the part of Emcee. Great dance moves, great expression and reactions- there was definitely the possibility that it could have turned to cheese having him in most scenes reacting to the other characters- but he kept it under control and didn't cross that line.

One of my favourite parts of the show was the love story between Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. I wanted to run up and hug them both- they were that adorable! Jan and David did a great job of playing their blossoming love... They were so believable in the first act, that the second act seemed like they must be joking. I kept waiting for Fraulein Schneider to say the whole break off of the marriage was a sham. I think the only thing that would have made them stronger would be if Herr Schultz would "cheat" his stance a little more when talking to his bride to be. I was in the centre of the audience, and was sad for the people stage left in the audience that they were missing some of the show/ a number of really sweet facial expressions shared between the love birds. I wanted to put the two of them in my purse and take them home with me.

Fraulein Kost did what she could with what was written for her... can I admit that? No reflection on how she played- That whole story line could have been axed and not missed. (I know, the way a story is written shouldn't be part of a review) It slowed the show down a few times near the beginning- I think to improve it, I would have had the director ask to play up the whole "not getting caught" part of things a little more with her character- to have her be more playful to counter the weakness in the story line. Or maybe just played up the energy of her character? GREAT singing and dancing though! I loved watching her move.

Sally and Cliff....

I didn't get it.

Antonio and Alyssa are fantastically talented people. But I think that they weren't the right people to be cast in these roles. Perhaps younger might have been the way to go in casting? This is community theatre though- so talent wise, they may have been best fit for the roles when keeping in mind the needs of the entire cast. I love their voices, I love their acting. They're both beautiful... But something in me kept wondering how the part of Sally would have worked with someone like young Elly playing the part a little more coyly. Can coy and sass exist at the same time? I think Sally needed that... Alyssa has a very sweet innocent look about her and a very sweet singing voice (Which, I must note- she broke from in one of her last pieces- it had some serious "oomph" behind it). Antonio (while only in his 40s) played his part well, but I just couldn't accept him as a "young writer searching for inspiration". His age kept me thinking that his character was a washed out dud of a guy. His acting served well though, and his reactions to things Sally did often gave me a chuckle. As always, I couldn't get enough of his voice.

Chris as Ernst Ludwig. Sigh. Part of me feels like this is a case of "sound of music syndrome"... a great little story gets ruined by a nazi story line being fed into random places. Chris always plays the part of a creep too well. (Sorry Chris!)

The Kit Kat girls... wow... just.. wow. I know they worked hard learning those moves, learning the attitude... they totally pulled it off.

I have to add this. Three times during the intermission, three different people called me by the name of one of the girls on stage. I'm not really sure why people get us mixed up, but I'm so ok with it- Amber's wonderful- and in this show, she's a scene stealer. She OWNS the stage. She owns the people watching the stage, and her character Helga knows it.

The first act was long. I know, it was written long... but there were a few longish music vamps in there that went on (for 20 seconds or more) making it confusing for the audience as to weather or not it was break time. I don't know if that was a set change issue- or what that was. The band, and cast, did so well considering they couldn't see each other for cues- I loved the accordion and I'm pretty sure I heard a banjo. Curses to those safety regulations that require the top bannister blocking our view of the band! I enjoyed having them in sight- adding to the feeling of being in the club in their great outfits. (ps, the "bei mir bistu shein" vamp? Maybe it's written in, or maybe Susan added it, but I've always love that tune).

Adding to the length of the first act was the addition of "audience participation". A fun idea, but the transitions distracted me and broke the rhythm of the show. I couldn't help but hear murmers of "what's going on?" and people wondering if it was break time... Not something you want to hear. But, at the same time, it was cute. Epecially when the Master of Ceremonies was able to improv. I do love when the audience has a moment of discomfort thinking about what it would be like to be up on stage.

Opening night tech was a little rough. Mics not turned on, reverb left on, spot not quite ready when actors were ready... I know they were working hard back there, and there are likely things that I don't know about that caused some of the issues. When they were doing well, they did really well. Lighting was good- there were a few scenes where the lighting was really really well done- enough that I actually thought about it- which is a big thing- I don't notice things like that usually ... Kudos to the actors for working though the problems without distraction. And an even bigger kudos/congrats to the crew on getting most of them worked out by the second half of the show.

A big really treat in this show was the costuming! SO MANY COSTUMES!
I loved scene changes, waiting to see what each character would come out in next! Lisa did a FANTASTIC job.

Props too! It took everything in me not to steal one of those great suitcases... or telephones...

And finally, this has to be mentioned.
The set.
Was amazing.

Visually impressive (and making for some great photos).
And so smart! I loved the box/curtain/door thingys... the way they worked as the back of the club, become the boarding house and were able to be turned into a train car, and then into the boxcar at the end.. just... super smart.

There's a lot I haven't mentioned. There was a whole lot of talent on that stage. I couldn't stop grinning like an idiot the whole night.
NP, be super proud of what you've acomplished- that was a fantastic show- I'm telling everyone to go see it.

All other photos credited to the lovely Jer.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

...And you aren't writing the reviews because? Well done Lesley! xo
Dear Alwyn, You'd better watch out! Check your rear view mirror!...Yep, that's a writer right there! :o)