Berni Stapleton (left), Amy House and Alison Woolridge show off their performance skills and versatility in “Shabaret.”<br />— Photo courtesy of Trevor Vatcher
Enacted on a sparsely furnished stage — tree trunk, stump, wooden chest — “Shabaret!” is a miscellany of stories and episodes which, in the words of the promotional material, aspires to be “a people-loving, man-friendly, fearless examination of comedy for the middle ages of lady-wimmin.”
Lady-wimmin? I am profoundly relieved that they said it, not me.
Skits and spoofs — some satirical, some facetious — by no means constitute the star atop my theatrical Christmas tree.
But it must be admitted that Amy House, Berni Stapleton and Alison Woolridge are a formidable trio, sometimes speaking in their own personae, sometimes masquerading in a variety of character roles, sometimes enacting scenes and episodes, sometimes confiding in the audience from under a spotlight, one or two at a time, or all three together. Character changes and shifts of costume are snappy.
Sometimes reminiscent of Rising Tide’s annual Revue show, but with longer reaches and leaving Rick Boland on the sidelines, “Shabaret!” does not aspire to be high art, but at its best it is bright and bubbly, intimate and honest in probing human values and relations.
While many episodes are funny and often touching, some are overlong, overinsistent, and even frenetic.
The repeated takes on relations between a single mother who drives a school bus (Woolridge), her daughter who wants a confirmation dress (House), and the wizened uncle (Stapleton) could use some tailoring. So could the interminable scenes set in a bra store. Sometimes less is more.
A substantial and knowledgeable opening-night audience, with patrons, sponsors and many theatre folk in attendance, received the play warmly — a tribute to the performance skill and versatility of the three principals (and their director) — and an expression of the respect they receive from their peers in the theatre community.
Directed by Lois Brown, “Shabaret!” continues its run until April 21.
Curtain time is 8 p.m. With one intermission, the curtain call comes in at 10:15 or thereabouts.
There’s no show on Monday, but there are additional 2 p.m. matinees on the two Sundays of the run.
General admission is $35, and $30 for seniors, students and artists.