Bob Harbin’s brilliant directorial choices make this a sterling production of Kander and Ebb’s now quintessential depiction of the rise of Nazism in 1931 Berlin. Harbin understands the searing effects of a tearing-apart world on the natural yearning for close personal relationships. Sally Bowles isn’t any more naïve than is Herr Schultz — politics has nothing to do with us, she asserts; this will blow over, I know Germans; I am a German, he avers.
Doors are askew on a stripped-down stage set, looking like a Roman gladiator coliseum ruin, that effectively serves as train stations, a boardinghouse and the Klub. Jason Johnson chips edginess onto the Emcee as a Greek chorus inserting social commentary. Claire Wilcher underlies her brash Sally with vulnerability. Ben Tebbe wears Cliff with conviction. Miki Mathioudakis owns the stage with a 'make do’ philosophy while David Mosedale believably departs it. Reine Goldberg’s harsh Fraulein Kost arches sarcasm into hatred. Paul Nicely turns the screw to its aching point as Ernst Ludwig.
The whack on the side of the head is the bright-eyed Michael Krauter, sucked into vindictiveness he can’t possibly comprehend. Every one of the Klub performers, also doubling in other roles, is superb, delivering Jason Johnson’s crisp choreography with verve. Trevor Fanning’s meticulous music direction translates into fine singing and on-the-mark accompaniment. It’s a top-notch production with costumes, wigs, make-up, spotlights and over-all lighting and sound design seamlessly working toward the desired effect. The loose and laughing first act audience is hardly breathing at final curtain. Through July 21 at the Athenaeum Theatre
[A+E] Theater + Dance