Kander, Ebb, and FlowThere's nothing worse than enduring the second-stringers, the Marilu Henners and Tom Wopats of this world slogging their way through the Broadway classics on their way to the bank. But director Sam Mendes' revival of Cabaret, which opened in London in 1993 and cleaned up at the Tonys five years later, withstands the roadshow treatment. His amalgam of the original Kander-Ebb Broadway production and Bob Fosse's cinematic redo is solidly sleazy, mesmerizing even when it drags (and it does, especially toward the end of the first act). Between the songs ("Wilkommen, bienvenue, wellllcome..."), the story (boy meets girl, boy meets boy), and setting (Germany, before the dawn of World War II), it's can't-miss theater--even when the star is best known for her work on Caroline in the City.
Five months after playing to sitting-room-only houses at the Fair Park Music Hall--thanks, no doubt, to Lawson Taitte's tsk-tsk review in The Dallas Morning News, in which he warned the blue-hairs to stay away unless they can "stomach" such decadent filth--Cabaret returns, this time to Fort Worth. Lea Thompson, unexpectedly excellent as Sally Bowles, has since left the cast to join the "real" production on Broadway; she has since been replaced by Kate Shindle, Miss America 1998. Remaining, however, is Jon Peterson as the charmingly churlish Emcee, a role that belonged to Joel Grey until Alan Cumming wrested it from his back pocket and made it his own. Peterson, in kind, steals the touring production--even if, from a distance, he looks like the offspring of Cumming and Saturday Night Live'sChris Kattan, if they were to mate in a vat of pancake makeup. A baaaaadgood time will be had, even if you won't get "Wilkommen" out of your head for weeks.--Robert Wilonsky