'Cabaret' provides night of fine entertainment

Thursday, February 20, 2003

More than 1,500 audience members were on their feet Wednesday night, delivering applause and appreciation. They weren't cheering on the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse (though they may have been there in spirit). They were giving a standing ovation to the cast of "Cabaret," which transported a delighted Lied Center audience from small-town Lawrence to bustling Berlin, Germany, circa 1933.

In the musical, struggling American novelist Clifford Bradshaw, played by Ryan Cutlip, is traveling through Europe in search of inspiration. It's not until he is swept into the madness of Berlin that he finds it. A dishonest friendship with a Nazi, a love affair with a reckless singer and countless nights spent at the grisly-but-great Kit Kat Club provide more than enough fodder for the naive American. He, along with the rest of the cast, finds himself torn between duty and love, politics and friendship and whether to move with the coming change or against it.

The cast was magnificent. Amy Downing, as Kit Kat Club headliner Sally Bowles, lit up the stage. Supporting actors Lucy Sorlucco (Fraulein Schneider), Elizabeth Stanley (Fraulein Kost) and Gordon Gray (Herr Shultz) were equally fabulous. The real treat of the night was the scene-stealing Emcee, masterfully played by Michael Brown. He was the movement behind the play and shined in every scene.

It's easy to see why "Cabaret" is the fourth-longest-running revival in Broadway history. The story is powerfully multifaceted, but light enough that it's fun. The music is complex and enjoyably upbeat. The sets are truly remarkable in their design and the way they move action without distraction. This is Broadway at its best.