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'Cabaret' is wonderful

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

Call it what you will, "Cabaret" (French) or "Kabarett" (German), it is playing at The Cygnet Theatre in Old Town San Diego and it's wonderful.

The Kit Kat Kabarett manager Max (Luke Jacobs) is deliciously seedy and smarmy. He is the ringmaster for a merry band of misfits and wayward dancers headlined by a coke sniffing chanteuse Sally Bowles (Megan Carmitchel). Carmitchel owns her character, exposing all of her flaws at Sunday's performance. It was raw, gritty, and just great.

This sordid story comes to life nightly as the club's Emcee (Karson St. John) introduces the naughty dancers and performers, exposing debauchery while relishing in its sleaziness.

Without shame, the saucy Kit Kat dancers flaunt their many favors: Rosie (Alyssa Anne Austin), Frenchie (Alyssa Junious), Texas (Carolyn Lupin), Fritzie (Tamara Rodriguez), and Helga (Allen Lucky Weaver). All of the dancers were deliciously trampy and solicitously costumed.

Arriving by train to Berlin on the other side of the city is struggling American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Wil Bethmann). He meets fellow passenger Ernst Ludwig (Gerry Tonella).

Seeking a cheap room, Ludwig refers Bradshaw to Fraulein Schneider's (Linda Libby) boarding house. Other guests include Fraulein Kost (Jasmine January) and her various hourly gentlemen guests, along with Herr Schultz (Eddie Yaroch) a Jewish fruit merchant.

Bethmann breathes life into his character with visible passion while Tonella radiates subliminal evil from his. They play off each other well.

At the boarding house, Libby captures the subtlety of an overworked hausfrau with guile as she asserts to protect her respectability even as the saucy January sashays her repeat customers through the front parlor.

As Frau Schneider's intended, German-Jew Herr Schultz exudes his naivete about the current political condition urging her to marry him as he denies any perceived danger in his pursuit to win Frau Schneider.

It's a complicated history lesson around the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930's. While the hard driving music elicits the times, it is the many characters that bring the story to life, like Marc Caro and Trevor Cruse who transform themselves with alacrity.

Kate Banville shines as choreographer along with Zoe Trautmann's costume designs. Both of these spectacular designs provided an enchanting forefront for Sean Fanning's perfectly executed set. Evan Eason is sound designer and for some reason on that particular Sunday, the balance was off until the second half. Even though dialect coach Vanessa Dinning worked wonders, it was hard to understand on that day in the first act.

Another superlative triumph for musical director Patrick Marion. He led Alyssa Keene on trumpet, Kyle Patrick Bayquen on bass, Matt Gill on reeds, with Devin Bumworth on trombone, and Nathan Hubbard on drums and percussion through the sassy score

Choosing not to expose the harsh-hatred of the fast-rising political party when he softened the ending, director Sean Murray pulled off a hit.

"Cabaret" is now playing at The Cygnet Theatre in Old Town San Diego until Aug. 21. You are "Willkommen" to join in the fun at the Kit Kat Klub. To reserve your place, call 619-337-1525 or go online to Rated 9.5 out of 10.

Elsewhere around town is "Million Dollar Quartet" at the Lamb's Playhouse in Coronado until the 28th. Box office can be reached at 619-437-6000.

Broadway San Diego is opening with "Disney's The Lion King" on the 24th. Box office can be reached at 619-564-3000.

La Jolla Playhouse continues with "Here There Are Blueberries" until Aug. 21 followed by "Fandango for Butterflies (and coyotes)" on the 30th. Box office can be reached at 858-550-1010.

A new imagining is happening at The Old Globe's Shakespeare presentation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Call 619-234-5623 or visit

Diversionary Theatre LGBQT+ continues with live Clark Cabaret acts. Box office can be reached at 619-220-0097 or sign in for notices at

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached at [email protected].


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