PETERBOROUGH, NH — The Peterborough Players has returned to its first full season since the pandemic hit with a stunningly relevant musical for our times, “Cabaret.”
Set in the bohemian world of 1930s Berlin, just before the Nazis rise to power, “Cabaret” draws you in with sexy nightclub numbers at the Kit Kat Klub, juxtaposed against the daily life at Fraulein Schneider’s boarding house residents. With most notably, the love affair between American writer Cliff Bradshaw, played by Brandon Grimes, and British nightclub singer Sally Bowles, Michelle Beth Herman.
Herman faces the challenge of being compared to Liza Minnelli’s Sally Bowles from Bob Fosse’s 1972 movie version of the musical. She overcomes this with her powerful voice and brings down the house with her numbers “Maybe This Time” in Act I and then with the musical’s namesake “Cabaret” in the second half.
The heart of this musical though is the love story between Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider, played phenomenally in this production by Players’ favorite Kraig Swartz and Broadway veteran Joy Hermalyn.
Their romance is not featured in the movie version, but hits the hardest.
It begins innocently, as two people hesitant to enter love late in life and ends with their love revealing the fear and divisions gripping 1931 Berlin. Their romance best mirrors the societal divisions of today.
This couple makes Peterborough Players’ “Cabaret” a must see, you do not want to miss Swartz and Hermalyn as Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider.
Matthew McGloin in the role of the Emcee also makes this production a must see. His Emcee flawlessly carries the show, elevating it to a Broadway-caliber production from start to finish.
McGloin’s renditions of “Willkommen” and “If You Could See Her” pack a punch as does his exit, which further reflects the dangerous times.
Players’ veteran Bridget Beirne is also phenomenal in a small but powerful role as Fraulein Kost.
Supporting the cast is a group of incredible musicians, lead by Music Director Jenny Kim-Godfrey, who bring a red hot jazz sound to the show.
If there is one critique I would give this production is that it was not as sexy as a production of “Cabaret” should be.
“Cabaret” is a musical that should drenched in sexiness. This production achieves that for the most part, however, the ensemble in this production came off as sweet and wholesome despite their attire and the subject matter of the material they were singing and dancing to. I’m not sure if this was a decision on the part of director Tom Frey, to tone down the raunchiness of the musical for audiences — because it is an incredibly provocative show — but it took away from the experience.
Overall this production of “Cabaret” is incredibly powerful, heart-breaking at times, and filled with great performances so don’t miss it.
The 1966 musical includes music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Joe Masteroff.
“Cabaret” opened on Thursday, June 23, and runs until Sunday, July 3.
Single tickets for “Cabaret” are $47.
Season Subscriptions ($188) available for purchase through July 3. Barn Door Flex Passes available throughout the Summer Season.
Tickets can be purchased at www.peterboroughplayers.org or by calling the box office at (603) 924-7585.