"I am a camera, with its shutter open" wrote Christopher Isherwood in 1937 about the Berlin stories he was recording. The first four words inspired the title of Joh Van Druten's play and the very different stage and screen musicals which followed as "Cabaret."
Now the Woodbridge, Va., Lazy Susan Dinner Theater is presenting "Cabaret" and Isherwood's warning of Nazism remains vivid. That sensitive writer could not have expected that his picture of Berlin would come to illustrate the origins of World War II.
The story of Sally Bowles, Fraulein Schneider, Herr Schultz and Ernst Ludwig develops against the Nazi background. The musical's image of Berlin as a cabaret and its M.C. as cynical commentator came from producer-director Harol Prince, who also accepts blame, in his "Contratictions" volume, for the compromises he urged on writer Joe Masterhoff for his 1966 musical book. These alternations, Prince believes, made possible the 1,166 Broadway performances; chaning times led to the deeper, subsequent filming for the Kander and Ebb score.
The Lazy Susan has come to long way, in the 18 months sice Roland Chambers took over as produce director. Atmosphere, equipment, service, food and performance are much improved. His staging here is resourceful and some of his casting excellent.
The playing of the M.C. is vital and Clint Vriezelaar, who once did it at Harlequin, is even better now - providing a polished, concise performance.
John Schmedes as Cliff (Isherwood's name in the musical) is a most able singing actor and Susan Groberg genuinely affecting as Fraulein Schneider. Adrienne Andersen's Fraulein Kost is well-voiced for "Tomorrow Belong to Me." Vocally the level is under par, especially for the speech of Laurette Hankins' Sally and Dan Keenan's Ernst, but the use of the limited stage is resourceful. Lazy Susan is not lazy and its "Cabaret" raises it some rungs up the local dinner theater ladder.
Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays.