its 1998 revival. It’sbecome a staple of regional and community theatres, as evidenced by the umpteenproductions throughout the Bay area in recent memory. It’s the season-endingproduction at Napa’s Lucky Penny Productions and it runs through June 16.
Based on John Van Druten’s 1951 play I Am a Camera,it’s the tale of two couples in pre-Nazi Germany – American ex-patriate “novelist”Cliff Bradshaw (Ryan Hook) and British cabaret performer Sally Bowles (AshleyGarlick), and boarding house proprietor Fraulein Schneider (Karen Pinomaki) andgrocer Herr Schultz (Tim Setzer).
Sally’s headlining days at Berlin’s Kit Kat Klub are over, asare the days of the Weimar Republic. The rise of National Socialism isreflected in the performances at the club, which are overseen by an omnipresentemcee (Brian Watson), and in the dissolution of the two couple’s relationships.
Director Ken Sonkin and his team have opted for amonochromatic approach to this production, bathing almost everything from theset and costumes to prop apples and oranges in shades of black, white and grey.This led to a sense of flatness, leaving little for other technical elements(especially lighting) to explore. The “dulling” of the space does not serve theproduction well, which was further clouded by an ever-present quantity of stagefog.
Sound is also an issue with this production, with backgroundeffects often overwhelming key dialogue and inconsistent microphone levels areal problem.
Performance-wise, Garlick does well with an extremely unlikeablefemale lead. Shallow, self-centered and selfish, Sally Bowles is not acharacter for whom you’ll find yourself rooting. Hook, a talented performer, isabout a decade too young for his part and simply doesn’t have the weight yetfor the role. Pinomaki and Setzer bringheart and a real sense of sadness, regret and resignation to their characters.There’s good work by F. James Raasch as a Nazi party official who’s the catalystfor most of the action and Watson is excellent as the emcee.
And yet, while several other aspects of the production are alsodone well (music, choreography), the show never really gelled and this Cabaretsimply failed to connect with me. It should have.
‘Cabaret’ runs through June 16 at the Lucky Penny CommunityArts Center in Napa. Thursdayperformances are at 7pm; Friday & Saturday evening performances are at 8pm,and there’s a Sunday matinee at 2pm.
For more information, go to luckypennynapa.com