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Theater | STAGE REVIEW

Come to the 'Cabaret' in South Bay and Feel the Appropriate Chill

September 25, 1997|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center may not sound like an ideal stand-in for a smoky cabaret in prewar Berlin, but Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities creates an alluring yet sinister "Cabaret" there all the same.

Director Irv Kimber generally uses the selection of Fred Ebb/John Kander songs and Joe Masteroff scenes from the 1987 revival instead of the original or the movie--with one major exception. He imports "Maybe This Time" from the movie, where it illustrated a blooming romance, and places it near the end, after the breakup. Its lyrics make little sense here; it's a generic anticlimax to the title number.

Still, that's the only misstep. Using smoke effects and Liz Stillwell's lighting, the final moments suggest the fate of those who remained in Germany, including the Emcee, with surprisingly sharp foreboding. This "Cabaret" chills.

Frank Stancati, last seen in drag on this stage in "La Cage aux Folles," delivers another powerful turn, sometimes in drag, as the Emcee, performing with blistering precision. Tracy Lore is a worldly, sexy Sally Bowles, which makes her "Maybe This Time" seem even less in character, though her voice is in top form. John Bisom is winningly likable as the wide-eyed bisexual writer.

As the older couple, Brenda Cox projects a rich, thickly accented alto, and S. Marc Jordan couldn't be more sympathetic. Chad Borden's friendly smuggler and Janet Krajeski's busy prostitute establish the necessary warmth before they reveal their Nazi sympathies.

Sha Newman's choreography and Steven Landau's musical direction keep the Kit Kat Klub clicking.

BE THERE

"Cabaret," Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd. Tonight-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 2 p.m. Ends Sunday. $20-$55. (310) 372-4477. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.

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