A truncated version of “A Cabaret Homage to the Music and Musical Influence of Kurt Weill” (the original 90-minute show has been pared down to seven numbers) served as the light appetizer for the heavier fare to follow (cross-reference below.
The intimate setting of Factory Theatre’s Antechamber—readily passing as a speakeasy without stretching anyone’s imagination—was filled to overflowing with music theatre aficionados.
Behind the bar, a quartet of musicians instrumentally serenaded the pre-curtain patrons with some wandering improvisations that more or less foreshadowed the masterworks to come. Percussionist Pratik Gandhi also served as conductor-when-needed and capably anchored the ensemble on two fronts, ably assisted by the keyboard dexterity of Terence Vince. Cellist Cory Latkovich and woodwind specialist Ruhee Dewji valiantly interjected splashes of colour but require a few more trips to the practice cubicle and pitch central before matching the skill-sets of their colleagues.
The mini-revue is glued together by a pair of Germanesque emcees whose banter (penned and staged by Justin Haigh) readily breaks the ice with its groaners (Hans: “Vat’s your favourite number?” Jodel: “43”; Hans: “No—musical number”: ka-boom) and some inventive physical comedy which causes havoc in the pit and—literally—waits for the other shoe to drop.
The voices for this rendition were hit and miss. Natalie Kulesza should get a re-write a tone or two higher to be able to properly support and sustain the storied opener (“The Ballad of Mack the Knife”). Later (“Money Money”), when teamed up with Hayley Preziosi, the result was considerably improved and the saucy bits of movement (courtesy of director/choreographer Sarah Thorpe) combined with the peppy music to make this the first winner of the selections. (Incredibly—with so much talent to work with—the finale (“What Keeps Mankind Alive”) had far too much stand-and-deliver to complete the set with any sense of “wow”.)
Alex Dault’s presence surpasses his vocal delivery and had a curiously raspy edge in “My Friends” (perhaps the straight blade devotee’s shaving cream personified?) then had a much stronger outing in “September Song.”
Without question the finest, most consistent (look, diction, passion) work of the group came from bejewelled, boa-clad Christian Jeffries as the Queen of this Night drew everyone into the musical heat of “Streets of Berlin.”
Here’s to a remount of the full musical Monty—with a few adjustments, this show could play anywhere there’s an audience that knows a good tune when they’ve heard one. JWR