MARIA MATOS THEATRE presents

ANA LÚCIA PALMINHA    HENRIQUE FEIST    ISABEL RUTH    PEDRO LAGINHA

FERNANDO GOMES    PAULA FONSECA    CARLOS GOMES

 

WELCOME TO THE CABARET

My first contact with CABARET was with the Bob Fosse movie and I simply loved it, I still do. Years later, much later, I was lucky to see the terrific Broadway Revival at Studio 54 (twice). Now, for my surprise, a Portuguese production of that classic opened here in Lisbon and once again it looks great.

In the movie, the heart of the story was Liza Minnelli’s Sally Bowles, in the Broadway Revival was Alan Cummings’ Emcee, here is the relationship between Fräulein Schneider (Isabel Ruth) and Herr Schultz (Fernando Gomes). But they all tell a great dramatic story, as strong today as it was when the musical originally opened on Broadway in 1966.

CABARET IN PORTUGUESE

For the first production of this musical in Portugal, director Diogo Infante took his inspiration from the Broadway Revival, with a few changes. Things are a little more serious here, the decadency and lasciviousness of the cabaret is missing from the musical numbers, our Emcee is more dramatic and the finale is more shocking.

But Infante’s version is also highly entertaining and it doesn’t shy away from the sexual charged characters. There’s a very naughty and funny “Two Ladies” and the dancers, male and female, are very

sexy. He also turned the gorilla from “If You Could See Her” into an adorable ballet dancer pig.

The most strange thing about this version is to hear the fabulous score sung in Portuguese, but Ana Zanatti did a nice job in translating it, although sometimes, specially with “Mein Herr”, things don’t work that well. You have the dancers (a good ensemble) doing the Bob Fosse inspired choreography and somehow the lyrics don’t seem to work with the dance movements.

To tell the truth, the less interesting thing about this production is the uninspired choreography by Marco De Camillis, it doesn’t have the style of Fosse or the naughtiness of Rob Marshall’s work on the Broadway Revival.

A PERFECTLY MARVELOUS CAST

A book and score like this deserves a great cast and that’s what we have here. The best are Isabel Ruth and Fernando Gomes, who are wonderful as the old couple in love in a time of terrible changes in Berlin; for me, Ruth is the best Fräulein Schneider I have seen and I saw two on Broadway. As the Emcee, Henrique Feist is more serious and less depraved than Alan Cummings or even Joel Grey, but he has a better voice than those two, it seems like is having the time of his life and gives us a powerful “I Don’t Care Much”. Pedro Laginha is a perfect naïve Cliff and shows a good singing voice (it’s a pity that Cliff’s song “Why Should I Wake Up”, as been missing since the original production); Paula Fonseca is a strong and funny Fräulein Kost and Carlos Gomes as Enrst Ludwig really looks the part. One word to David Ripado, who as a young Nazi, gives us a thrilling “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”. As for Ana Lúcia Palminha, who won the television contest to play Sally Bowles, she has a great voice (much better than Natasha Richardson’s on the Revival) and perfectly delivers “Maybe This Time” and “Cabaret”; her Sally is real, honest and slightly bigger than life, just like she should.

FINALE

A great production of one of the best musicals ever written to Broadway; Diogo Infante and his team deserve all the credit and it proofs that the genre can be done in Portuguese. So, accept the invitation: “Leave your troubles outside and welcome to the Cabaret”.


Music by John Kander   Lyrics by Fred Ebb   Portuguese Lyrics by Ana Zanatti

Book by Joe Masteroff   Portuguese Adaptation by Pedro Gorman

Choreography by Marco De Camillis   Directed by Diogo Infante

Photos © Margarida Dias   Rated by Jorge: ++++