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Cabaret at The Theatre Factory

Small company opens its season strong with the Kander & Ebb classic

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The Theatre Factory in Trafford launches its 19th season in a very big way — with the musical Cabaret, with a book by Joe Masteroff, and music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb.

That director Scott P. Calhoon is able to shoehorn this major musical into such a small space is nothing short of miraculous. And his clever scenic design keeps the set changes flowing quickly and smoothly, in a cinematic way. Best of all, even when the location leaves the Kit Kat Klub, there are lingering reminders of it. Though the red-and-black color scheme fits the decadence of the cabaret, maybe there is too much black: It deadens the stage pictures. Calhoon does create some interesting, partially lit tableaux at tables in the nightclub, which serve to comment on the action.

As American Clifford Bradshaw and British entertainer Sally Bowles, Eric James Davidson and Victoria Brady have excellent stage chemistry. They do acrobatic blocking on the tiny bed in Cliff's room. Their final scene is heartbreaking, and they take perfectly timed pauses that add to the dramatic conclusion to their relationship.

As landlady Fraulein Schneider, Beverly Price nearly steals the show. Vocally, she is outstanding, and she proves herself as an actress by playing the wide range of emotions the script demands. Her version of "What Would You Do?" is deeply moving.

Leon Zionts is captivating as Herr Schultz, bringing real charm to the production.  His scenes with Price are some of the most memorable in the show.

The production has some flaws. As the Emcee, Scott P. Sambuco brings no humor or charm to the opening of the musical; he is just sinister. When Sambuco (who doubles as the show's choreographer) sings the famous "Wilkommen," it isn't welcoming; it will make you want to run and hide. Since Sambuco begins with sinister, there's nowhere left for him to go as the show takes its dark turn.

The costumes, by Kimberly Katruska, are ill-fitting and are a mish-mash of periods.  Yes, some of the clothing captures the 1930s, but some of the costumes look more 1980s and '90s. Sambuco's Emcee wears a most unflattering pair of dance pants. One of Brady's dresses is so short that she spends much of the scene uncomfortably tugging it down to avoid exposure.

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