Mattituck’s North Fork Community Theatre has a reputation for fine musical theater, and there are some fine performances in the company’s new production of the Kander & Ebb musical “Cabaret,” which opened last weekend and will continue through June 4.
“Cabaret,” which follows the lives of an American writer in love with a British showgirl working in a seedy Berlin cabaret just as the Nazis come to power, has some difficult singing parts, and this cast is rising to the challenge.
Justin Harris is a breakout success as the Emcee in this production, playing his iconic role with just the right growl and naughtiness, carrying the story along with an alternatingly tender, comedic and alarming touch.
A veteran of NFCT’s Youth on Stage productions, it was great to see him back in Mattituck in this lead role.
The Young Boy, played by Joseph Podlas, who comes onstage mid-production to warm and chill the audience with the pastoral hymn, “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” (which later becomes a Nazi anthem) will ultimately chill you to the core.
Two newcomers to the NFCT stage bring this love story to life.
Brianna Kinnier as Sally Bowles is a welcome addition to this troupe. She manages to retain a sweetness and pluck in the face of hard luck, despite her boozing and carelessness. Her singing is pure and touches the house all the way back to the cheap seats.
Nick Motlenski plays Cliff Bradshaw as a thoroughly American innocent, and his gut revulsion to the fascism he sees growing around him helps put the world’s stage in perspective, an au courant reminder of the slipperiness of civil society.
Colin Palmer’s Ernst Ludwig is as true a German as any good Nazi can be. He offers hospitality and friendship, but his joviality belies his true and chilling intent. Mr. Palmer made his last appearance at NFCT in “Almost, Maine” this past winter, and it’s good to see him back.
I thoroughly enjoyed the love story between boarding house matron Linda Aydinian’s Fraulein Schneider and Michael Horn’s fruit seller, Herr Schultz. Their budding tenderness for one another feels real.
Jennifer Eager as Fraulein Kost, who brings home sailors to pay the bills in Fraulein Schneider’s boarding house, adds delightful comic relief.
The North Fork Community Theater is one of the few theaters left around here that doesn’t rely on wireless microphones for its musicals. While wireless mics have their own set of challenges, this production, with a large pit orchestra and a wide range of musical capabilities among the actors, could have benefited from clearer audio.
It’s a tradeoff not to be taken lightly, however, and this theater generally has no trouble overcoming that obstacle.
Cudos are due to costume designer Diane Peterson for bringing the world of “Cabaret” alive, and to the production crew that kept this production running smoothly from start to finish.
If you missed seeing NFCT regular Manning Dandridge on stage in this production, take heart. He hasn’t gone anywhere. He made his directorial debut with this difficult show, and is expected to direct the company’s production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” this winter. We’re looking forward to it!
“Cabaret” continues Thursdays through Sundays through June 4 with shows at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.
Admission is $25. Click here for tickets or call the box office at 631.298.6328.