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September 21, 2018

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Smith Center:

Review: Dazzling, dark ‘Cabaret’ with beautiful girls, horrors of Hitler

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Joan Marcus

“Cabaret” is at the Smith Center from Tuesday, June 14, through Sunday, June 19, 2016, in downtown Las Vegas.

‘Cabaret’ at Smith Center

“Cabaret” is at the Smith Center from Tuesday, June 14, through Sunday, June 19, 2016, in downtown Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

“Cabaret” is at the Smith Center from Tuesday, June 14, through Sunday, June 19, 2016, in downtown Las Vegas.

Click to enlarge photo

“Cabaret” is at the Smith Center from Tuesday, June 14, through Sunday, June 19, 2016, in downtown Las Vegas.

There’s a powerful moment in the musical “Cabaret” that premiered Tuesday night at the Smith Center that made the audience recoil in a collective sigh of horror. It comes as Ernst Ludwig (Ned Noyes) takes off his overcoat to show the repugnant Nazi swastika.

It’s the sudden realization that the Nazis are taking over the good times of Germany and will gut its soul in favor of fascism and anti-Semitism. It’s the punch that dooms the late-blooming romance of Fraulein Schneider (Shannon Cochran) and Herr Schulz (Mark Nelson).

It’s the awful apprehension of what Hitler’s Mein Kampf spells out for the Fatherland and why the Kit Kat Klub — the setting for “Cabaret” — will wind up an empty, blitzed shell before its dazed denizens are hauled off to a concentration camp.

Until then, the award-winning “Cabaret” is filled with fun and its “live and let live” attitude of six, sultry and disheveled dancers who make up the Kit Kat Klub girls and the handsome androgyny Kit Kat Club boys.

Willkommen to the debauchery of pre-war Berlin: “Here, life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful. Every night, we have to battle with the girls to keep them from taking off all their clothes. Tonight, we may lose the battle. We have no troubles here.”

Randy Harrison (Showtime’s “Queer As Folk”) is magnificent as the MC guide through the decadence. Who would ever have thought anybody could measure up to the lust and leers of Oscar winner Joel Grey and Tony winner Alan Cumming?

Randy is perfect and stands tall alongside his predecessors. (Check back Saturday for esteemed editor Don Chareunsy’s chat with openly gay Randy, who discusses “Queer As Folk” and the horrific massacre in Orlando, Fla.)

What needs to be said about sensational singer-actress Andrea Goss as impudent Sally Bowles? She’s brilliant and ranks up there with Oscar winner Liza Minnelli from the classic film. The audience fell in love with Andrea on Tuesday night.

Boyfriend Cliff Bradshaw played by Lee Aaron Rosen is another actor deserving of praise, and I think that slap to the face of his pregnant partner trading her fur coat for a back-alley abortion is for real.

Bravo to the entire cast — what a great team effort. This is a musical masterpiece: It’s dazzling and dark. It’s raw sensuality of showbiz storytelling without sheen and sparkle. The choreography slinks from sexy to repulsive jackboot stomping to hammer home the horrors of Hitler and his national socialism fanaticism.

Original “Cabaret” (1966) director Hal Prince told us at the Smith Center that the first production caused audiences in tryouts to walk out shell-shocked because it was so controversial. The Smith Center patrons winced but didn’t walk out.

Half a century later, “Cabaret” still has that same effect and remains relevant as our current presidential candidates tangle over social issues. The cast winks at the audience letting them in on their views of November’s elections.

This was an absolutely fabulous night of theater: Fabulous cast, great music and lyrics (“Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” “Money,” “Cabaret,” “Maybe This Time,” “Mein Herr” and of course “Willkommen”) and a powerful, riveting story of Berlin’s pre-war decadence with the torn and tangled romances of the two leading couples as the Nazis infect their poison propaganda on Europe.

You will revel in the fun, be stunned by the Nazi nastiness and feel emotionally touched, then wrung out to dry. “Cabaret” runs at the Smith Center through Sunday. Do not miss this production. It is Broadway at its best. “Cabaret” is too good not to see.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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