Stage review: “Cabaret”

Patrick Dorow Productions brings the Kit Kat Klub to Kittery

“Cabaret” is a fun and racy musical set in 1930s Berlin. Taking place in and around a lurid nightspot called the Kit Kat Klub, the plot centers on the love affair between American writer Cliff Bradshaw and Klub performer Sally Bowles. Complementing their romance is a subplot following elderly Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz’s romantic pursuit of landlady Fraulein Schneider.

The show portrays a time of constant festivities in which the people of Germany strive to forget their economic troubles and ignore the political unrest steadily brewing across the country. But that negligence proves folly, as the Nazi Party continues its rise in the backdrop of the story.

Local theater company Patrick Dorow Productions is staging “Cabaret” at Star Theatre in Kittery, Maine, through Oct. 9. Though not perfect, it’s an exceedingly fun show with some memorable performances.

Jennifer Fogarty, whose previous acting credits include the role of Wednesday Addams in a national tour of “The Addams Family,” here plays the English Sally Bowles. Conforming ably to her character’s personality, she is both shallow and alluring throughout the play. Fogarty’s performance is not lacking in charisma, though her attempt at an English accent, while passable, doesn’t sound authentic enough to contribute to the reality of her character. The accent also fluctuates while she sings, disrupting the world created in the performance.

Accent aside, Fogarty has a tremendous voice, full of power and confidence. Her vocal performance fits the character’s persona of a seasoned and savvy nightclub headliner, which she plays with passion. She even cracks and drinks real eggs in one scene, demonstrating her commitment to the character.

Jennifer Fogarty as Sally Bowles in "Cabaret."

Jennifer Fogarty as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Patrick Dorow gives a masterful performance as the Emcee, the raunchy, and androgynous host of the Kit Kat Klub. Dorow is careful to maintain a relationship with the audience, frequently addressing them directly. Dorow has the responsibility of serving as a master of ceremonies, both for the play onstage and the story within the play, solidifying the audience’s engagement with the show. Dorow loses himself in the role and serves as an example to his less experienced costars of what can be achieved onstage.

Teddy Crecelius’ performance as Cliff Bradshaw, by comparison, is sub-par. His effort is noticeable, but he lacks the enthusiasm of his costars. He delivers his lines dutifully, speaking and acting like Cliff Bradshaw, but the performance lacks feeling. He plays his character, while the other cast members become theirs.

Another impressive performance comes from Ben Tylka, who plays Cliff’s friend Ernst Ludwig. Tylka demonstrates a spot-on German accent, which helps cement his character’s authenticity. Embodying the story’s ominous undertones, his Nazi persona is not overly menacing, but casual and even friendly — an average man who becomes warped by the Third Reich’s rise.

The scenery on the set is well designed, though not elaborate, creating the atmosphere of a real seedy club that may lack money but does not lack pizzazz. Bretton Reis admirably serves double-duty as the lighting designer and a cast member, playing the club boy Bobby.

Though the production has its flaws, the cast and crew of “Cabaret” put on a good, entertaining show for anyone who wants a fun night out on the Seacoast.

The four remaining show times are Friday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 8, at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 9, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $20 for students. There is also limited cabaret-style seating available on the set for $100 per table (up to four people). For tickets and more information, click here.