Theatre review: Cal Rep’s Cabaret


Photos by Keith Ian Polakoff

Pictured are Sally Bowles (Rachel Post) and Clifford Bradshaw (Spencer Moore) sharing an intimate moment together on stage during Cal Rep’s production of Cabaret.

Four men and four women dressed in lingerie and barely-there clothing, seductively posed and staring down at the audience in a creepy, yet oddly amusing way. They were the members of the production’s Kit Kat Klub, all in character, who opened the show with the master of ceremonies (Joe Laurente) during Cal Rep’s production of Cabaret last week.

The musical was set in pre-World War II Berlin, Germany, with the evergrowing presence of Nazi party allegiance consuming some of the characters. Cabaret was directed by Kari Hayter and took place inside the Studio Theater at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).

In the play, Clifford Bradshaw (Spencer Moore), an American novelist, is looking to stay in Berlin until the completion of his next novel. Ernst Ludwig (Brenden Mukanos) introduced Bradshaw to Fraulein Schneider (Jennifer Richardson), who allowed him to stay at her boarding house for 50 marks. Ludwig later on in the play revealed his Nazi allegiance, which was a shocking and disturbing surprise to Bradshaw.

The Kit Kat Klub ensemble was featured several times in the first act, with impressive dance moves and vocals. Sally Bowles (Rachel Post), the main character of the Klub, sang her heart out with “Don’t Tell Mama,” which was a humorous song about wanting to hide disgraceful things from parents.

However, at times, it was difficult to grasp the lyrics of the different songs because the members of the Klub were singing and shouting at the same time– sometimes in German.

Bradshaw visited the Kit Kat Klub and met his future love interest, Bowles. Shortly after their first encounter, Bowles is fired from her performing job by the owner of the night club, Max (Chase Evans). She moves in with Bradshaw, but not without an argument from Schneider about money.

The two of them are an unlikely couple at first glance, with Bradshaw being a total bookworm and Bowles being a party animal by nature. However, their on-stage sexual chemistry was not in question.

Sally Bowles (Rachel Post) and the Kit Kat Klub ensemble engaging in a musical act.

Fraulein Kost (Christine Bowie) also boarded at Schneider’s house and was caught sneaking sailors in her room by an unamused Schneider– which left the audience in hysteria.

The thrust stage allowed for an interactive experience for the audience, because characters entered and exited the setting on all three sides of the stage.

Beware if you sit in the first row, as members of the Kit Kat Klub are notorious for spreading their legs and shaking what their momma gave them in front of your bare eyes.

In the second act, Schneider broke her engagement to Herr Schultz (Michael Grenie) after a brick was thrown at the window of Schultz’s fruit shop. She feared Schultz’s Jewish background would impact her safety and business negatively with the rise of Nazis.

Bradshaw wants to go back home to America with a pregnant Bowles. She, on the other hand, loves Berlin life and does not want to leave. Bowles decides to have an abortion, which leaves Bradshaw heartbroken.

The vocal and theatrical talent was strong for every character. It is a shame Bradshaw did not have more singing parts or solos, because his voice was incredible. Another honorable performance was Bowles’s solo of “Cabaret.”

It is safe to say that this musical is not recommended for children, because of its explicit content and nudity. If you are an adult looking for a good laugh, this musical might be for you!

You know the talent is exceptional when characters on stage can be half naked, stare at you, dance in a provocative manner and not break character.

The California Repertory’s production of Cabaret continues until March 3 at California State University, Long Beach’s Studio Theater, 1250 N. Bellflower Blvd. Tickets start at $18 for students, $20 for seniors, military and faculty/staff, and $23 for individuals. Call the box office at (562) 985-5526, email [email protected] or visit