Albany’s Beautiful Historic Washington Park
“What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play
Life is a cabaret, old chum Come to the cabaret
The current production of Cabaret puts Albany’s Park Playhouse squarely on the map as a contender in regional theater. Yes, this show is that good, and brings spectacular song, dance and vocals to the heart of Albany’s beautiful Washington Park. This is community theater, where you are not just the audience but the extras, where your favorite actors and actresses are as close to inviting you on stage as you’re going to get, and where they sing to you, not at you. You are the show here, where you go to see the actors, and the actors come to see you.
But that is not all that sets the Park Playhouse apart: It is outdoor theater, under the stars, in the Summer breeze, where the actresses will even take drink orders before the show and deliver them to your tables. Yes, tables. The first few rows are tables with exquisites seats generously donated by Huck Finn’s Warehouse. The theater sits at the end of the beautiful historic park, home to the Albany Tulip festival, and beauty is everywhere around you. What you need now is nice company, a starry night, and singing and acting and dancing to make for one spectacular evening.
“Put down the knitting, the book and the broom
It’s time for a holiday
Life is a cabaret, old chum So come to the cabaret
Cabaret is not a new play. It made its debut in 1966, and quickly rose to such play stardom, not one of us hasn’t belted out Cabaret in the shower, whether we were there for the earliest of releases or arrived on this planet some time thereafter. Behind the dancing and the pretty faces of Cabaret, is the torrid history of Germany during the Great Depression. Yes, there is bitter history behind this play, that still rings fear and sorrow to this day. Some of the play is in German, and the pronunciation is so perfect I am guessing some of the actors (thinking of two) are actually German.
“Come taste the wine
Come hear the band
Come blow that horn Start celebrating right this way Your table’s waiting
You are in a seedy night club in Berlin, 1931. Germany in 1931 was not a pleasant place to be. Inflation was so high, Marks were taken to the market in a wheel barrel to buy a single loaf of bread. The German people were desperate people during desperate times, and desperate times rarely give rise to anything good. It is here that Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party rose to power. (As a side note, didyouweekend recently reported that the crazy black hat Mussolini wore is actually in Lake George!) (didyouweekend.com/remember-that-crazy-mussolini-hat/)
“What could permitting some prophet of doom
To wipe every smile away
Life is a cabaret, old chum So come to the cabaret
The play centers around the Kit Kat Klub in Berlin, and specficially, a cabaret performer by the name of Sally Bowles (played by Shannon Rafferty) and her relationship with American novelist Cliff Bradshaw (Jacob Ware). Although Cliff initially proves issues with his sexual identity, all doubt gets cast aside when the lovely Sally Bowles shows up at his doorstep needing a place to stay. Cliff tries to be the anchor of reason in the calamity that is developing, but Sally seems unable to pry herself from her old ways, and returns to the Cabaret like a bad habit. It is here Cliff discovers his best friend has just joined the Nazi party, and further chaos develops. The world is suddenly learning the Nazis were not going to go away any time soon. Herein lies the subplot: The romance between Fraeulein Schneider (Susan Jeffare), a German boarding house owner, and Herr Schultz (Larry Greenbush), a Jewish fruit vendor who wins her heart. Fraeulein Schneider cancels the pending marriage because she is afraid the Nazis will terminate her boarding house license. As she will share, she has lived through one world war, survived monstrous inflation and a few other struggles, but finds herself on the wrong end of Father Time to risk losing her livelyhood.
Overseeing the entire production is the Master of Ceremonies of the Kit Kat Klub, played by Jason Jacoby.
When I first saw Ms. Rafferty at Man of La Mancha (Capital Rep), I said she had the “voice of an angel” (didyouweekend.com/man-of-la-mancha-reviewed/). But can angels belt out Cabaret Liza style? Ms. Rafferty certainly did, and has proven once again this girl can act and sing. But I have to add she had some good company with her: Jason Jacoby mesmerized the crowd with his own vaudeville style notes, and when Fraeulein Schneider and Herr Schultz serenaded each other, who did not think this was the epitome of romance found late? Jacob Ware anchored the crew together with a well-casted part for him, and we hope to see more of all of them in the future.
This play is a must see, and if you cannot afford tickets, seats on the lawn are always free. As the Playhouse will remind you, the goal is to bring art to everyone, whether you can afford it or not. This is a great play, in a great theater, in an awesome town, and in the end, the experience is priceless.
“Start by admitting from cradle to tomb
Isn’t that long a stay
Life is a cabaret, old chum I
t’s only a cabaret, old chum And I love a cabaret”
Table Seating: $20.00* Center Section Seating: $15.00 Side Section Seating: $13.00 Seniors Receive a $1.00 Discount Lawn Seating is Free
Cabaret Book by Joe Masteroff Based on the play I Am A Camera by John Van Druten and the novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood Music by John Kander Lyrics by Fred Ebb .
Directed by Michael LoPorto Choreography by Geoffrey Doig-Marx Musical Direction by Justin P. Cowan Scenic Design by William Davis Lighting Design by Vincent Vigilante Costume Design by Danielle Breitenbach Technical Director: Timothy J. Bornt Production Stage Manager: Elizabeth Ellis .
The Cast of Cabaret The Master of Ceremonies…..Jason Jacoby Sally Bowles…..Shannon Rafferty* Clifford Bradshaw…..Jacob A. Ware Frauline Schneider…..Susan Jeffare Herr Schultz…..Larry Greenbush Ernst Ludwig…..Micah Bond Frauline Kost…..Julia Register Kit Kat Klub Dancers: Lauren Alaimo, Megan Elyse Fulmer, Caroline Griswold Kiley Hinkle, Ashley Simone Kirchner, Brandon Maxwell, Victoria Meade, Joseph Rosario, Robert Taylor & Sharrod Williams