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‘Cabaret’ gets stylish, inviting revival at Marriott

Marriott Theatre’s sensual production of the musical “Cabaret,” with its smart 19-member cast of singers and dancers directed by David H. Bell, dazzles at just about every turn.

Written by Joe Masteroff and based on a book by John Van Druten, the show features unforgettable music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, including such numbers as “Money,” “Perfectly Marvelous,” “Maybe This Time,” the title song “Cabaret” and others. Matt Raftery and Ryan T. Nelson are the forces behind the inspired choreography and music direction.

The production is based on Van Druten’s 1951 play “I Am a Camera,” adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 novel, “Goodbye to Berlin.”

In his welcome to the Kit Kat Klub, a popular if tawdry hotspot, Stephen Schellhardt, in the role of the flamboyant emcee, instructs audience members to put on rose-colored glasses and leave their troubles outside.

The play, which takes place in Berlin in 1929-30, when the Nazi nightmare was starting to come to a boil, is filtered through several pairs of eyes.

Among them are those of a cash-strapped American, Clifford Bradshaw (played by Patrick Sarb), who has come to Germany to write a novel but instead finds romantic adventure. Though Bradshaw is tempted by gay patrons at the nightclub, its flirtatious singer-dancer Sally Bowles (sprightly Megan Sikora), a free-spirited English transplant, who turns his life upside down.

Meanwhile, there’s a heartrending romance brewing between an elderly couple, Jewish fruit merchant Herr Schultz (Craig Spidle) and Bradshaw’s landlady, the practical-minded Fraulein Schneider (Annabel Armour), who is forced to choose between friendship and survival.

Other colorful characters include Fraulein Kost (Christine Sherrill), a busy hooker struggling to survive and Ernst Ludwig (Jameson Cooper), a businessman with a covert political agenda. Jonny Stein merits mention for his performance in a gorilla costume with a polka-dot dress as he teams up with Schellhardt in the unsettling “If You Could See Her” number.

A clever set by Thomas M. Ryan, Diane Ferry Williams’ moody lighting and Nancy Missimi’s just-naughty-enough costumes all help make this “Cabaret” something special.