MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) – WHAM. An actor slams a door in enacted anger, tearing the casing and yanking door from its hinges. Onward the play goes with an important entrance out of service for the majority of the first half. The players simply adapt and exit and enter from a wing as if nothing happened. That spontaneity speaks volumes about the smarts of the players in the Attic Chamber Theatre production of “Cabaret.”

The musical is a whole lot of grit – decadence in Berlin at the fall of a regime and the rising sound of the lockstep of Nazis at the turn of 1930.

What happens is in-your-face salacious, mixed with dilemmas of haywire dreams.

Broader implications are unspoken but there.

A certain movie star made the song “Come to the Cabaret” inviting, but this production sticks with the original intent: The singer reeks of a life of disaster.

Thoughtful direction by Adam Westbrook feeds this production, and the experienced cast members grasp what he and the masterful creation offer.

The impact of live theater is immediate in Perry Hall in the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus Communication Arts Center. The illusion is the audience is in the Kit Kat Klub, a place of temptation. The Master of Ceremonies (Joel Goodness), his face made up with harlequin touches and his body wear suggesting suggestiveness, lures listeners/watchers to an evening of hedonism. The female dance corps, clad in not much, is hormones gone a-wandering.

Woven in soon is the story: A wannabe novelist is arriving by train in Berlin, Germany. Clifford Bradshaw (Noah Matthew) quickly is exposed to smuggling by shifty Ernst Ludwig (Brad Leonhardt), who introduces Clifford to two main elements in what happens:

One is a cheap, thread-bare apartment overseen by widowed landlady Fräulein Schneider (Amanda Petersen), who is being wooed by grocer Herr Schultz (Robert Ernst).

The other is Sally Bowles (Katana Goss), who ends up in the apartment in desperation after being dumped from her starring role at the Kit Kat Klub.

Sally is prime fodder for Clifford’s novel in waiting: An alley cat whose drinking and drugging leads to visions of glory with not a care in the world. Another pregnancy is a mere speed bump.

The sordidery leads to a finale so powerful that this production has no bows by the players – so as not to lighten the load of darkness presented. Any applause is in the mind as one leaves the excellent, demanding, intriguing production.

This and that:

+ Costuming is daring around the Kit Kat Klub capers.

+ Specialized choreography fits in with the overall inventiveness of the production. Yes, many moves are risqué. The performers throw themselves into the characters, seedy as they are.

+ Every production makes marks of its own. The artistic collaborative for this “Cabaret” finds interesting ways in looks, in how a brick through Herr Schultz’s window is represented, in how the denial of Herr Schultz as being German is emphasized with rhythmic stomps, in the presentation of the threesome in “Two Ladies, among others.

+ Joel Goodness quickly hits a rhythm as the snarky Emcee, as do Katana Goss as intensely flighty Sally Bowles and Noah Matthew as Clifford in his amazement of Berlin as “tawdry and terrible… Everybody’s having a great time!” They are prominent parts of a committed cast.

+ Music is played by a band on stage, adding to the immediacy.

+ The production has an unfettered feel – best understood by adults.

+ Saturday’s busted door was fixed during intermission.


Running time: Two hours, 28 minutes

Remaining performances: 7 p.m. Aug. 18-20


Creative: Based on the stories by Christopher Isherwood, based on the play by John Van Druten; book – Joe Masteroff; music and lyrics – John Kander and Fred Ebb; director – Adam Westbrook; stage manager – Jensen MacKenzie; assistant stage manager – Gina Bevilacqua; choreographer for “Mein Heir” and “Money” – Miki Wise; dance captain – Miki Wise; conductor – Justin Krueger; production designer – John Dalzeil; firsthand/draper – John Robert; SFX make-up – Audrey Soberg; props designer – Benjamin C. Jordan; technical director – John Dalzeil; sound – Brian Ugorowski; sound engineer – Aubrey Parrish

Cast (in order of appearance):

Master of Ceremonies (Emcee) – Joel Goodness

Sally Bowles – Katana Goss

Clifford Bradshaw/Herman – Noah Matthew

Ernst Ludwig – Brad Leonhardt

Fräulein Schneider – Amanda Petersen

Herr Schultz – Robert Ernst

Customs Official/Victor – Jesse Lockstein

Fräulein Kost/Rosie – Jenny Witt

Max/Hans – Luke Crocker

Gorilla/Frenchie – Miki Wise

Lulu – Ally Klippel

Texas – Rachel Moldenhauer

Fritzie – Audrey Soberg

Helga – Maddy Lemke

Bobby – Alexander Cullen

Musicians: Justin Krueger (piano/conductor), Jaxon White (tenor and alto saxophone), Dave Byers, Maureen Milbach on 8/20 (drums/percussion), Sara E. Wheeler (keyboard/bass), Kelly Robinson (trumpet), Alex Martinez (trombone), Erick Martinez (clarinet/trumpet)


Musical numbers

Act I

Overture – Orchestra

“Willkommen” – Emcee, Sally and the Kit Kat Girls

“So What?” – Fräulein Schneider

“Don’t Tell Mama” – Sally and Kit Kat Girls

“Mein Herr” – Sally and Kit Kat Girls

“Perfectly Marvelous” – Sally and Cliff

“Two Ladies” – Emcee, Lulu and Victor

“It Couldn’t Please Me More” (Pineapple Song) – Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz

“Tomorrow Belongs to Me” – young voice

“Maybe This Time” – Sally

“The Money Song” – Emcee and Kit Kat Girls

“Married” – Herr Schultz, Fräulein Schneider, Fräulein Kost

“Tomorrow Belongs to Me” (Reprise) – Fräulein Kost, Ernst Ludwig and Chorus of guests

Act II

“Entr’acte” – The Kit Kat Band/Kick Line

“Married” (Reprise) – Herr Schultz

“If You Could See Her” (Gorilla Song) – Emcee, Texas

“What Would You Do?” – Fräulein Schneider

“I Don’t Care Much” – Emcee

“Cabaret” – Sally

“Willkommen” (Reprise) / “Finale Ultimo” – Emcee, Cliff and Company


NEXT: “Romantic Comedy” by Bernard Slade, Oct. 27-Nov. 4.

THE VENUE: The 361-seat, two-level James W. Perry Hall features a proscenium (flat-front) stage with a substantial performance area of 36 feet wide by 86 feet deep. Acoustic clouds are part of the ceiling. On the side walls are acoustic panels of copper color that matches the woodwork stain on seat backs and arms and on decorative square and rectangular wood panels. The theater is amply equipped and fairly new. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus Communication Arts Center opened in 2009. The adjacent lobby is spacious and includes a ticket office, snack service area, restrooms and spaces for art and photo displays.

THE NAMESAKE: James W. Perry is the former dean and campus executive officer.