“Cabaret” is imperfect. An awful production of the John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff musical (based on a play by John van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood) will highlight all of the flaws, namely a top-heavy first act and a poorly drawn romantic leading man. In an excellent production, such as B.T. McNicholl’s for the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, all of the flaws are invisible and the results are extraordinarily powerful.
The plot focuses on the romantic entanglements of two couples in Weimar Germany: British Kit Kat Klub chanteuse Sally Bowles with American novelist Cliff Bradshaw and German spinster Fraulein Schneider with Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz. McNicholl’s staging is inspired by Sam Mendes’ hypersexual 1993 production at London’s Donmar Warehouse, which transferred to Broadway.
A former Glinda in “Wicked,” Kate Fahrner imbues Sally with both a childlike petulance and world-weariness that suits the character well; her delivery of the show’s 11 o’clock title number is a breathtaking knockout. Adam Greer, with a naive, endless smile, thankfully resists falling into the trap that is the role of Cliff, her possibly bisexual lover, while Lori Wilner and Scott Robertson are effortlessly endearing as the ill-fated older couple. Jon Peterson is energetic, creepy and ultimately heartbreaking as the club’s androgynous Master of Ceremonies.