A Kurt Weill Cabaret Review – Theo Ubique Takes Us on a “Weill Ride”

True to form, the remarkably talented Theo Ubique ensemble at the No Exit Café did not disappoint on the opening night of A Kurt Weill Cabaret.

Pitch perfect tones, excellent choreography, arresting acting, and great costumes on a minimalist set are the trademark qualities of Theo Ubique productions. If you’ve enjoyed their high quality performances in the past, you will not find this the least bit surprising. 

 

If you’ve never been to the No Exit Café, you owe it to yourself to come to this production—they pulled out all the stops.

 And, if you know the musical breadth and depth of Kurt Weill you will be impressed by the courageous, unanticipated musical choices made—some dissonant and others jazzy—to include the many sides of the Weill repertoire.

 

I felt that my personal background on Weill needed some “filling in,” so I visited the Kurt Weill Foundation website,  to understand some of his musical influences, especially those of Busoni, whose early (1927)  dissonance is well before its time.

 

Weill and lyricist Brecht were not interested in making beautiful music. They were interested in shining a glaring light in the mores of their day.

In fact, some of their later work (around 1932) actually caused Nazi riots! In 1933, Weill fled Germany for the USA and landed on Broadway's completely different musical stage.

Two-Time Jeff Award Winner Musical Director /Accompanist, Jeremy Ramey, shared his insights with us:

“For Act 1, we sing a few of his early musical collaborations with Berthold Brecht from “Happy End” and “Three Penny Opera” along with his rarely performed “Mahagonny Songspiel” …a six-movement piece that takesus on a journey…for hedonistic pleasures and general debauchery.  To our theatrical delight, all goes well…until God shows up…”

Shades of a neo-classical cantata, Busoni influence, impressionistic elements and some ragtime reveal a “Weill side” many of us never knew.

Artistic Director Fred Anzevino and Music Director Jeremy Ramey made a gutsy choice for Act 1 and a daring choice for the season opener.  Decadent, dissonant music about a whiskey-centric lifestyle was strong medicine and some of us didn’t see it coming.  Even so, though the sour notes and ugly lyrics kept coming, we were conscious of the fact that we were watching a social commentary on life in Weimar Germany at that time (this compares to the opening of Cabaret and Joel Gray’s slimy MC at the Kit Kat Club.)

My, my! Were we relieved when along came Act 2 with charming, funny, favorites, as well as collaborations with a stunning range of lyricists including:

"Stranger Here Myself" from One Touch of Venus, lyrics by Ogden Nash.

“The Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria” from Where Do We Go from Here?, lyrics by Ira Gershwin;

September Song” from Knickerbocker Holiday, lyrics by Maxwell Anderson

Obviously, no Kurt Weill program would be complete without “Mack the Knife” from Threepenny Opera, lyrics by Bertholde Brecht.

 

THEO UBIQUE CABARET THEATRE’S EXCITING SEASON 2014-2015 SEASON

 

November 14 - December 28:  Always…Patsy Cline

March 6— April 12: Jesus Christ Superstar

June 5— July 12: A Marvin Hamlisch Songbook

 

Photos: Adam Veness

 

 

 

 

  

 

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