The Atlanta Opera
through June 19, 2022
This isn’t the usual opera venue, as this is part of their Come as You Are Festival taking place at the Pullman Yards south of town. The facility is a large athletic center which they remake into an open stage presentation facility. And whereas Cabaret is done in a cabaret style it is all in the open amid a house full of tables and chairs.
Considering all the miserable things going on in our world these days, , it seems so poignant to have a musical rooted in hysteria and anti-Semitism. One can only trust that it serves to point out the errors of the past instead of appealing to secretly harbored resentments.
With music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, Curt Olds plays the part of the deliciously banal emcee of the Kit Kat Klub (just a coincidence that those initials are KKK ?) The female lead, a tawdry and easily corrupted English performer in the Kit Kat Klub, Sally Bowles, is played by Aja Goes.
But what to say of relevance? First of all this is NOT a show for children. One man in the audience was overheard to say that he was glad he hadn’t brought his church group to this show. It’s not for children, not for those easily offended, not for those who lived through WWII and would rather forget. It’s loaded with sensuality, licentiousness, easy sex, sex for pay, bisexuality and homosexuality. There’s something for everyone. Older patrons will understand the complacency in the face of disaster that is the theme of Cabaret. What will theater-goers with limited knowledge of the 1940’s really understand of this tragic era? Life was a cabaret for many people who sought to avert their eyes from the gathering clouds. But as the clouds of war formed o’erhead many of the rats (in this case the persecuted and the soon-to-be persecuted) scurried to the storm drains in often vain search for safety. One must understand the history of the period to get the full impact of this powerful musical.
When Anthony Laciura sings “If you Could See Her as I do . . .” which he does with a gorilla it is NOT a variety act. It is a parody of the love that greengrocer Herr Schultz has for Fräulein Schneider (Joyce Campana). Schultz is a native born German who thinks of himself as German first, and as Jewish second. Obviously the State is going to reverse that hierarchy when Hitler takes complete control. He’s betrothed to Schneider who is gentile, and who is coerced by fear into breaking off the engagement for fear of reprisals which seem doomed to come in the new Germany.
Cabaret is a good show. It’s a tough show and it has legs. If there’s any moral here for those of us sitting in our comfy homes in Atlanta in the year 2022, it has to be that we can not blithely ignore those who would exert powers over what we believe, how we worship, and how we relate to our fellow human beings. Each of us is not the architect of our own fate, and very few of us are the masters of our own ship. Only by standing up for what is right for all of us, which includes the right to disagree with prevailing vocal majorities, do we protect what so many gave their lives to preserve for us to this day.
More info and tickets at AtlantaOpera.org