From Lauren Levine. Email her at lauren[AT]borderstan.com
When I think “local theater,” memories come to mind of cheesy family-friendly musicals performed by the high school drama teacher and neighbors with too much free time and not enough talent. Get those thoughts totally out of your head, because the Keegan Theater is nothing like that.
In a tiny 100-seat theater on Church Street with exposed brick walls and a single bathroom, a small but mighty cast of local and well accomplished actors are bringing the Tony award-winning musical Cabaret back to life as if Dupont Circle itself were being enveloped in the smoke and confusion of pre-World War II Germany.
From the very first “Wilkommen” of Cabaret to the beginning of war (and we all know how that ends, so don’t go in there expecting any happy endings), the cast of this emotionally powerful and slightly scandalous show will pull you in, which isn’t too hard when you’re sitting a mere 10 feet away from the stage. The German accents aren’t the best, but that’s easily forgiven with effortless quips, endless (sexual) puns and memorable tunes.
It ain’t easy filling the shoes of Liza Minnelli, who stole the show as leading lady Sally Bowles in the 1972 film version of Cabaret. Nevertheless, Keegan’s Sally Bowles, played by Maria Rizzo, is convincing as an attention-hungry, alcoholic, British ex-pat desperate to be famous. And she’s easy on the ears and eyes to boot.
The real show stealer is Paul Scanlan, who plays the mysterious Emcee of the Kit Kat Club, a seedy Berlin nightclub where the show takes place. Scanlan not only keeps the crowd entertained with not-so-subtle sexual references, but guides the show from scene to scene, walking the audience gently through the darker themes that reoccur throughout the storyline.
So if you’re wondering what to do until it starts getting warm enough to sit on a patio and drink wine, the answer is get yourself to the Keegan Theater. Cabaret has been extended through March 2, and there are still some tickets available. This was my first show at Keegan but it certainly won’t be my last!