Theater Review: Cabaret

Omri Nitzan’s Cabaret is the kind of theatrical feast that makes us realize how great a director he is.

Cabaret_311 (photo credit: Carmel Theater )
(photo credit: Carmel Theater )
Cameri Theater, November 11
Broadway in Tel Aviv, and it’s AAA all the way! If you’re going to do an iconic musical, and Cabaret after Liza Minelli and Joel Grey is certainly that, it has to have something more than visual splendor to make it work.
Omri Nitzan’s Cabaret provides that dimension with power and subtlety, the kind of theatrical feast that makes us realize how great a director he is, especially when his focus is on the material rather than on making an impression.
We know the story. Cliff Bradshaw, an impressionable wannabe writer, is flung into the decadence of 1930s Berlin via the lewd antics at the notorious KitKat Club, orchestrated by its mesmerizingly indecent emcee. There he meets and falls for Sally Bowles for whom the cabaret is both job and philosophy of life. Their life and that of those around them plays out against the rise of Nazism.
The terror and pity of this Cabaret is how ordinary, how inevitable seems the Nazi takeover of a nation’s life as the musical’s arc moves from amiable heedlessness to tragedy.
Buttressing the arc are Roni Toren’s fluid set pieces, Shay Bonder’s chilling video sequences, Bambi’s (Avi Yona Bueno) blatantly dramatic lighting, both the swagger and the pathos of Javier de Frutos’ choreography, and the crispness of Yossi Ben-Nun’s music direction brilliantly executed by his all-women band.
The acting? Doesn’t get much better than this. Micki Kam’s wry, gutsy Fraulein Schneider has seen it all. Like she says, she’s a survivor. Irit Kaplan shines as working girl Fraulein Kost.
Itay Tiran, radiating corruptive power as the emcee, dominates the stage when he’s on it, Aki Avni’s naïve Cliff learns fast, growing backbone along the way. In Uri Ravitz’ Ernst you see how the Nazi cancer could grow, and Ola Schur-Selektar grows powerfully into the mercurial, ultimately pathetic Sally. A show to glory in and think about.