I'm still waiting for a version of Cabaretthat will confront the Nazi within all of us. It's so easy to shudder with indignation and horror at a swastika on a soldier's arm, as we're invited to do in Mendes' Cabaret, and in all the earlier Cabarets, and in The Sound of Musicand almost every World War II flick to ever come out of Hollywood. But there's a reason that millions of Germans were swept up into the Hitlerian tornado, and it's not just that they were brainwashed, or "Teutonic," or somehow mentally or emotionally different from the rest of us. They just happened to be living at the end of the world, at a place where scapegoating is a spiritual calling. If Mendes' vision of the Kit Kat Club had approached the agony in the Ivar Theater of 1984, "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" would have incited far more paradoxical and difficult feelings than mere blind contempt for the song's toxic sweetness and dire prophecy.
Now thatwould have been gutsy.
CABARET | Music and lyrics by JOHN KANDER and FRED EBB | Book by JOE MASTEROFF | Directed by SAM MENDES | At the Wilshire Theater | 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills | Through May 1