In Havana: The Mefisto Company’s production of ‘Cabaret’ has just opened
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- Arts and Culture
- culture an traditions
- 08 / 19 / 2008
David Guerra wrote the text resorting to different sources among which stands out the novel Goodbye to Berlin, by Christopher Isherwood, and the Cabaret script conceived by Joe Masteroff. His interest —he confesses in the program sheet— was recovering both the atmosphere and the characters that typified Berlin in the ‘30s of the past century. The version respects the broken structure characterizing the musical theater, but at the same time it secures the story remains clear.
In this particular, I must make a point about the fact that together with the inevitable love triangle is emphasized the repressive, irrational atmosphere resulting from the boom of fascism, in such a way that the liberal behavior of the characters who live around the Kit Kat Klub —considered to be a pest by their detractors—, is contrasted with the terrifying actions of the Nazi machinery.
Tony Díaz set himself a difficult challenge with this staging, particularly if we take into consideration that musical plays are rare in our theaters. To this we must add that, after its premiere in Broadway (1966) and mainly since its movie version (1972) masterfully played by Liza Minelli, Cabaret has become a measuring stick and a hard-to-reach chimera. Mefisto’s leader was able to use an unusual scene space (it is some sort of catwalk which splits the stall area into two) distributing and alternating actions in the extensive performing space. Energy, dynamism in the constant changes in location as well as in scenes settings, clarity in the direction budgets and the ability to guide a cast predominantly young, are some of his merits.
Díaz had the collaboration of an excellent crew, among whom there is Iván Tenorio, who took responsibilities for the choreographic work, but most important he was who was able to make dance a new young cast with almost no training in these activities. A special mention deserve the bright, colorful, distinctive costumes by Vladimir Cuenca, whose proclivity to characterize the different characters, takes us to another time, to a deliberately erratic environment, and defines the leanings or social status of each character is palpable. Lights, by Carlos Repilado, contribute outstandingly to enhance the show and the continuity of sober or severe atmospheres, as needed. Scenery, by Ricardo Axel, supports the right use of the aforementioned unusual stage space, favors the dynamism in location changes and contributes to create a coherent image to the integral speech of the staging. Musical arrangements by Rey Montesinos and voice editing by Gladis Puig have among many other merits, that adaptation of the original music by John Kander and the lyrics by Fred Ebb to the possibilities and the payroll of Mefisto.
One of the most remarkable things about this staging is the fact that it is not performed by musical actors. As we previously pointed out, this is a young company with a theater training almost exclusively oriented to dramatic plays. However, they are able to sing and dance with dignity and, sometimes, even skillfully.
Out of the large cast I must mention the work of Rayssel Cruz, who from gestures, mimics or positions reveals the interior world of the master of ceremonies. Gretel Cazón sings with ease and sometimes even with bright; she performs with total lack of inhibition and spontaneously to and up getting a positive outcome in her playing of a key character in the plot. Ingenuity, believe, natural manners, are the pillars on which the work of Enrique A. Estévez rests. Once more Ramón Ramos shows his knowledge of techniques and his intelligence while playing a naïve, credulous Jew, the victim of the circumstances of his time. Hedy Villegas resolves by means of his experience and craft the obstacles of another important role. She only needs to emphasize the anguish and uncertainty hovering over a mature woman trapped between the illusions of an autumnal love and fear. Jorge Luis Curbelo performance is sober and clean, while Yenly Veliz give signs of having strength and spirit.
By opening Cabaret, Tony Díaz and Mefisto state clearly that their purpose is to aim high. Without being a glittering or impeccable show, the truth is it is a good option in the theater guide. Now, Cabaret should not become a goal for our future musical theater, but a starting point, a measuring stick to overcome and to continue increasing the quality in the results.