THIS "CABARET" GETS DOWN AND SEXY
The Kit Kat Girls are lively entertainers.

Broadway in Tucson opens its season with the sleazy, tawdry version of “Cabaret.” No matter how many times you've seen this perennial evergreen before, you will enjoy this one.

BT's production is crisply performed debauchery for adults of all ages.

Well, actually, it's not that sleazy and tawdry. Especially for people who watch a lot of cable television. All the suggestively dressed girls working at Berlin's frisky Kit Kat Klub in 1930 do keep their clothes on. So do the boys.

Sure, the choreography is filled with lots of wide open arms and legs, bawdy moves and slinky suggestiveness. And yes, there is enough pelvic thrusting and eager crotch grabbing to satisfy all three sexes, and more humps than a caravan of camels.

But hey, “Cabaret” does take place in a time when sex was easy and everything else was dangerous.

The irrepressibly pansexual Emcee is portrayed by Randy Harrison, best known for his ongoing TV role in “Queer As Folk.” As skin boss of the Kit Kat Klub, Harrison's Emcee begins Act One with a disarming boyishness that reminds one, really, of the desperation sure to come when reminders of the Nazi oppression outside this Temple of Decadence begin to appear.

Tiny little Andrea Goss portrays the English tart Sally Bowles, lately of Mayfair but now hoping for a show business break among Berlin's lesser competition at the Klub.

Goss is so good at presenting the shiny side of Sally with her soaring voice, Sally's personality dedicated to the Dark Side isn't that obvious.

Goss does match up well with Benjamin Eakeley as Clifford Bradshaw, the would-be American writer with a portable typewriter.

But once again, the real heart of “Cabaret” is the dedicated romance of Fraulein Schneider (Mary Gordon Murray) and Herr Schultz (Scott Robertson). Their acting is excellent at catching the scary future of November love.

All of these leading voices are strong and vibrant, making every song come alive. As for their acting, the Emcee could be a little more sinister and Sally could feel a little more reckless.

But so many other parts of the show are just right, particularly the hard-working ensemble of six Kit Kat Girls and four Kit Kat Boys. The band is equally good.

The BT production comes with a bit of lineage. It is “inspired by” the refocused staging of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall which opened in 1998 at New York's Roundabout Theatre. That show ran on Broadway until 2004.

Memories of their “Cabaret” remained so vivid, the Roundabout company put together a revival of that revival 10 years later. This is the resulting national tour.

“Cabaret” presented by Broadway in Tucson runs through Sunday, Sept. 25, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

Tickets are $29-$90, with discounts available. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Centennial Hall box office, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For details and online reservations which have an additional fee, visit broadwayintucson.com or call 800-745-3000.





















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A SHAKESPEARE FOR MODERN TIMES: "KING CHARLES III"    
photo by Tim Fuller

Mama's ghost looms over the shoulder of King Charles III (Peter Van Norden) and Camilla (Cathy Dresbach

Anglophiles of Tucson, “King Charles III” is your kind of play. A solid knowledge of the British royal family is definitely helpful in appreciating the satire and unspoken humor in Arizona Theatre Company's season-opening production.

English playwright Mike Bartlett has also taken this somewhat futuristic fantasy for a trip into the past, as well, by writing the dialogue in blank verse using mostly iambic pentameter.

This tactic does create a kind of Shakespearean atmosphere that makes it seem like the Bard has returned to modern London, where he discovers those beloved kings and queens of yore are now mere paper cutouts of their once powerful selves.

A lovely quality of paper, to be sure, but completely limp, lacking any fiber whatsoever. Can you say “brooding figureheads?”

Unfortunately, taking the stuffy manners of today's royals and presenting them with the artificiality of Shakespearean language – spoken by actors using a British accent, often facing the audience to deliver their lines – does not make for an easy accessibility into this theatrical experience.

Particularly for we commoners over here in the colonies.

If you are wanting an amusing evening of light-hearted fare, “King Charles III” is not the play for you.

However, should you feel the need for a heavier cultural pursuit steeped in centuries-old tradition with Shakespearean heft, then you will be mightily pleased.

Matt August the director brings deep flavor to Bartlett's vision of how Shakespeare might imagine what would go on inside Buckingham Palace immediately after Queen Elizabeth II has passed away.

Charles (Peter Van Norden), the patiently waiting eldest son of the Queen, is married to Camilla (Cathy Dresbach). Next in line after Charles is William (Adam Hass Hunter), married to the ambitious Kate (Kate Maher Hyland).

Red-haired Harry (Dylan Saunders), seated fifth in this kingly succession, is in love with the free-thinking commoner artist Jess (Jeanne Syquia). Harry is happy to relinquish any claim he has to the throne, just so he and Jess can live happily ever after.

So, OK, the Queen dies suddenly of unexplained causes and Charles is King. An elaborate protocol kicks in.

Charles takes an immediate liking to his upgrade in prestige and power after so many years. He is finally “The Guy.”

Parliament, meanwhile, possibly sensing an opportunity passes a law limiting press freedom. In a rush of righteous indignation, King Charles refuses to sign off on it.

Parliament pushes back and so King Charles (in a move that can't help but bring Donald Trump to mind) abolishes Parliament. Camilla, the common sense one, is beside herself.

Always calculating the odds is stately William. Constantly tugging at William's sleeve is his ever-calculating wife Kate. But her mind is not complicated by conflicts of propriety. She is going for the power.

By this time, Harry is totally disgusted with the whole business. Romantic idealism, and Jess herself, have Harry tightly in its grasp.

Bartlett does have more in mind than a satirical depiction of royalty as meaningless hierarchy. Symbolically, it is important to the Brits that their royal ruler stays powerless. But it is also important that their ruler remains on the throne to tacitly approve whatever Parliament passes.

August as director has added to the play's metaphorical layers by employing scenic designer G.M. Mercier's towering floor-to-ceiling slabs of sliding panels that imply monolithic power without providing any details.

Van Norden's King Charles is tormented, a la the best of Shakespeare's kings. He has waited sooo long to feel the weight of that crown on his head, only to discover nobody really cares anymore. Abolishing Parliament doesn't bring him more power. It only makes things worse.

“King Charles III” runs through Sept. 30 with performances Tuesdays through Sundays at various times in the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets are $25-$63, with special discounts available. For details and reservations, 622-2823, or visit arizonatheatre.org. Running time is 2 ½ hours.












"BEYOND THERAPY" IS COMEDY FROM BI (before the internet)
This cast makes the early 1980s fun again.

Who doesn't love a little nostalgic time travel, even when you go so far back in time nobody has a cell phone or any idea about the internet?

That's where we are in “Beyond Therapy,” now getting a lively presentation by the Roadrunner Theatre Company at the northeastside APCOT Theater.

This absurdist comedy by Christopher Durang opened in 1981, flaunting its timeliness with chockablock dialogue references to Gary Gilmore, Joan Didion, Jill Clayburgh, the play “Equus,” Bell Telephone's encouragement to “Reach out and touch someone,” Shaun Cassidy, David Berkowitz, Rice-A-Roni, “Three's Company,” Kate Millet and many others.

The theme, if you will, details the struggles of young adults from that pre-AIDS era to win the Dating Game of real life. There was a lot of premarital sex (as they called it in polite company) for all genders and a lot of confusion about what to do next.

Everyone's personal standards seemed to be changing so quickly. Every morning when you woke up it could feel like someone had come in over night to change all the rules.

Lawrence Fuller as director has his cast of six play all the humor straight, as if they are completely unaware of any of the crushing cultural mash-ups we've had in the intervening decades.

Cynicism comes so naturally to everyone these days, it is kind of cute to see people willing to act confused by that book covering the new rules for men talking to women, women feeling proud of being sexually active, therapists trying to act professional when everybody knew nobody knows what the heck is going on.

Mayela Morales as Prudence does most of the heavy lifting, fending off the advances of her wannabe boyfriend Bruce (Benjamin Acosta) and her overly eager therapist Stuart (Christopher Younggren), who is also her former lover.

Bruce has similar challenges with his therapist, Charlotte (Robin Carson), who is even more confused (if not sexually involved with him) and often talks to patients through her stuffed dog Snoopy.

In the spirit of the times, Bruce is a proudly bi-sexual guy who just wants to have it all. Charlotte is equally spirited about her work, insisting that all her patients will be fine if they just break out of their old conformist personalities and express their true, natural selves.

“Beyond Therapy” runs through Oct. 2 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, in the APCOT Theatre, 8892 E. Tanque Verde Road.

Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 seniors and students, $15 groups of 10 or more. For details and reservations, 520-207-2491, roadrunnertheatrecompany.org