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‘Cabaret’ shines light on Nazi rise, racism

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Stylish, seedy, sexy and saucy are all apt descriptions of Sutter Street Theatre’s production of “Cabaret.” Another would be thought provoking. The meaty drama depicts Germany after World War I and the rise of the Nazi party. The Kit Kat Club, a decadent nightclub featuring scantily clad ladies and an eccentric master of ceremonies (Mark Ettensohn), is the main setting for the audience’s journey into this eroding world. The tale follows American novelist Cliff Bradshaw (Elio Gutierrez) and the paths he crosses with those he meets in Berlin. Ernst Ludwig (Michael Coleman) is the first to befriend Bradshaw while on a train from Paris. Ludwig helps his new friend secure a room at Fraulein Schneider’s (Eileen Beaver) boarding house. New in town, Bradshaw discovers the Kit Kat Club and the alluring British performer Sally Bowles (Lauren Miller). That sets the stage for a wild ride. The leggy ladies of the club - Rosie (Emily Kelly, who studies dance at Hawkins in Folsom), Lulu (Dian Hoal), Frenchie (Micah Long, a Vista del Lago student), Texas (Holly Wilson, a 2010 Folsom High grad) and Helga (Jessica Larrick, also a Folsom High grad) - sing and dance their way through the tumultuous pre-Holocaust environment. All of this is complemented by Kate Janzen on the piano. The acting is top shelf and despite the limitations of the intimate stage, the dance routines are a real kick. Mike Jimena, who also plays club owner Max, and his crew did a fine job building the set that serves as the fruit shop owned by Schneider-love-interest Herr Schultz (Dennis Curry), the Kit Kat, the train, the boarding house and Bradshaw’s room. The casting was pure perfection. Ettenshohn shines as the emcee. His take on the role is spot on, striking a realistic balance between the over-the-top dialog and songs with the heavy subject matter. Miller, as Sally Bowles, offers a dose of depth to go along with her otherwise carefree character. I was impressed with her work in “Forbidden Broadway” and she doesn’t disappoint in her latest role. Gutierrez, as Bradshaw, is superb. He lends a sense of realism to the otherwise fantastical world of the Kit Kat. Director Connie Mockenhaupt handled the storytelling with grace, going for class over brass. Sutter Street Theatre offers a solid cast, excellent songs and a reminder that life is a “Cabaret” - full of ups and downs. * * * The Cast Mark Ettensohn Elio Gutierrez Michael Coleman Eileen Beaver Jody Wills Dennis Curry Lauren Miller Mike Jimena Emily Kelly  Micah Long Holly Wilson Dian Hoal Jessica Larrick Jon Leadbetter Shane Burrows Eimi Taormina Brady Tait * * * “Cabaret” When: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 16 Where: Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom Cost: $23 for general, $21 for seniors and SARTA, $18 for students, recommended for mature audiences Information: (916) 353-1001, sutterstreettheatre.com Rating: 5 out of 5 stars