Theater Review: Cabaret

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Tennessee Repertory Theatre presents: Cabaret (Feb. 16 – March 16; Ages 16 and older)
TPAC’s Johnson Theater
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 • tennesseerep.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 6:30 p.m., Fri 7:30 p.m., Sat 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45

Out of the gate and with fair warning, Cabaret is not a show for children. It’s best served as a parents’ night out date. That said, Tennessee Rep offers up an overall great night of musical theater entertainment with this show.

Gary Hoff’s set design is exquisite to say the least with two turntable platforms on stage left and right that revolve to create new scenes. And Michael Barnett’s lighting is on tap to enhance Hoff’s handiwork.

The absolute star of this production is David Compton in the role of the Emcee. Compton carries the show and succinctly serves up a superbly slimy — and yes, that’s a compliment! — portrayal of his character that is meant to be a gender-bending “freak” of sorts. In fact, this is Compton’s greatest achievement. He delivers an absolutely flawless performance that is of true Broadway caliber. It’s evident that he really knows this character and studied it inside and out in order to become the mysterious Master of Ceremonies. No exaggeration here… Compton’s performance is worthy of a Tony Award nomination. He IS that phenomenal in this role.

It’s great fun to see the return of Jenny Littleton to the Rep’s stage after a long absence with other pursuits. She’s always been one of my favorite actors in town. While she does a really good job as Sally Bowles, stronger direction would bode well not only for Littleton’s performance but the show overall. At times, she plays the role a bit mousy instead of bold and brassy. She nails the sexiness of the “Mein Herr” number in Act I, along with the talented ensemble cast of Kit Kat Girls. What should be Littleton’s real standout moment — the show’s title number toward the end of the show — is where the need for stronger direction is evident. “Cabaret” is supposed to be a defiant number that is in-your-face about living life to the fullest regardless of what anyone else thinks. The weak spot with Littleton’s delivery is that it is seemingly apologetic and subdued.

Despite that, the Rep’s production of Cabaret is wonderfully entertaining. It makes for a great date night with your significant other.

 

 

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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