Theater West End

Europe crumbles as Germany ramps up for war. And for the little people uninterested in politics, life grinds on as the WW1 repatriations drive the German Reich to desperation. And while things are bad, there’s alwasy someone to blame it all on: those at the fringe of society. It’s a good excuse to murder those you dislike. Cliff (Waldon) aspires to be the next Great American writer; he hopes to find inspiration in the lurid streets of Berlin. Like all good writers he’s broke and negotiates a room from desperate landlady Fräulein Schneider (Wendy Starkand). Along the way he meets low-profile Nazi Ernst operator (Adam DelMedico) who offers him a few marks to make a mysterious run to Paris to pick up a package. Clint meets Sally Bowles (Harris, tonight by understudy Erica DeJonge) an English girl who’s a wannabe cabaret sensation and permanently broke, addicted, and alcoholic. It’s a match made on Broadway, and Cliff quickly impregnates Sally, only making things worse. Land lady Fraulein Kost is set to marry a nice Jewish fruit merchant Herr Schultz (Brian Chambers) but Earnst warns her not to. Now the the world falls apart with Cliff fleeing back to America and Sally left to deal with Berlin. In short, a brilliant musical comedy with high stakes, strong characters, and an easy to hate antagonist.

The house was full the night I attended, a trend I’m noticing as we slowly reopen. The music was loud and friendly, Sally desperate, and Cliff a bit naïve but likeable if a bit horny. DelMedico’s Nazi was very likeable (as bad guys often are in musical comedy) and there was a sense of community in this hot house of Germanic uncertainty. The musical numbers worked well, and with no backstage, the show made use of walls and baffles to move people around. Smoke affects highlighted the cabaret feeling as did the general atmosphere of TWE’s theater space. While this is a not way a holiday show, it’s a rousing good story with great music and sleazy characters, and a nice chaser for the holiday sugar rush bearing down on us. The only thing that would make this more authentic? A sign saying, “Smoking Required.”

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