Christopher Isherwood is Rolling in His Grave: Cabaret in Philadelphia

My Review of Cabaret at The Arden in the November 2017 issue of ICON Magazine

The Arden production scored a hot ten on show tune technicality, dancing and onstage verve. and while the 1930s pre-WWII ambience of Berlin’s Kit Kat Club was ingeniously duplicated, the actual story of American writer Clifford Bradshaw (Daniel Frederick) and Sally Bowles (Charissa Hogeland) was explored only superficially. Replete with libertine sexual decadence, drag, gender bending and erotic posturing, homosexuality is presented as a naughty nighttime indulgence, an affront to Isherwood’s take on the subject in his novella Goodbye to Berlin, the inspiration for the 1951 play I Am a Camera, which in turn was the inspiration for Bob Fosse’s 1972 film, Cabaret. arden director Matthew decker’s “contemporized” version is steeped in too many anti-Trump Nazi comparisons, which in the end detracts from the work’s aesthetic, especially when the essential part of Cabaret—Bradshaw falling in love with another man—is completely left out. While the Kit Kat Emcee (John Jarboe) is just as memorable and talented as Fosse’s Joel Grey, Decker’s Bradshaw in act II leads audience members who are seeing Cabaret for the first time to believe that Sally Bowles had successfully changed a gay man into a straight man. There’s a good chance that Isherwood is rolling in his grave.

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