Charm Abounds in Players Guild’s Cabaret
I had the honor of leaving the loneliness of my room to come hear the music play at tonight’s exclusive dress preview of Cabaret at the Players Guild. The William G. Fry lower arena theater has been craftily transformed into the seedy Kit Kat Klub of 1930s Berlin showcasing the collective genius of artistic director Josh Erichsen, resident director Jonathan Tisevich, lighting and sound engineer Scott Sutton, choreographer Michael Lawrence Akers, musical director Steve Parsons, costume designer Stephen Ostertag, stage manager Megan Slabach, and set builder Micah Harvey.
Tomorrow night marks the public opening for the next installment of the Guild’s seemingly ceaseless string of smash success productions. I was immediately charmed by Olivia Wimberly’s dominate and comedically brilliant Emcee (those eyes).
Even before the first lights came up, I had already been primed by Kit Kat boy Jeremy Clarke’s comically flirtatious and serious table interactions (“what is this witchcraft?” he hilariously asked in regards to my smartphone). I had the luxury of sharing a table onstage with the infectious laugh of Micah which made for a magically fun experience all night long.
The show’s dance numbers had a perfect balance of naughtiness, power, and grace. I so enjoyed watching Jeremy Clarke, Chase Shrum, Justin James Ollis, Ali Caldwell, Matti-Lynn Chrisman, Molly Weidig, Brook Lytton, Drake Harbert, AudraKate McLean and my new favorite mini-mega-powerhouse Britty Racano expertly maneuver about a postage stamp’s worth of stage real estate in such perfectly designed choreography. Who knew you could feel like you were both in a lavish Busby Berkeley production and simultaneously like you where having a quickie in a dirty truck stop bathroom? Kudos to Mike Akers for pulling that one off–mad skills!
The story followed American novelist Cliff Bradshaw (Matthew Heppe) from the train into Berlin met by custom’s officer Corey Paulus and the sheisty Ernst Ludwig (Jake Sustersic). The believable dialects of Paulus and Sustersic helped reel us in and the lovable Heppe nailed us to the floor with his amazing performance throughout the night in which he expertly navigated every emotion from shy and tender to balls-to-the-wall raw hurt and everything in between. Not since Blood Brothers have I felt the breadth of Matthew’s skills.
We soon meet the lovable Fräulein Schneider (Wendy Schanz) who’s gritty vocals simultaneously gently tug on your heartstrings and beat your eardrums into submission. Herr Schultz played by Ralph Cooly was not only instantly lovable with sweet clear vocals, but sported a waxed gray handlebar mustache and lavish beard that would make both hipsters and Santa Claus cry.
But the tour-de-force emotion of Sarah Marie Young’s “Life is a Cabaret” left me wondering how we are still blessed enough to have such talent in Canton. If your on the fence on this one, hop off and come to the Cabaret old chum. You won’t regret it. The show opens tomorrow and plays through April 15th. Tickets are available at www.playerguildtheatre.com