By Lou Harry
Indianapolis Business Journal
The Cabaret (formerly at the Columbia Club after an initial stint at the Connoisseur Room) has made a smooth transition to temporary digs at the Indiana Landmarks Center, where it hosted Feb. 11 shows by Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Mitchell is best known from his leading roles in Broadway’s “Ragtime” and “Kiss Me, Kate,” neither of which he tapped into during his early set. Instead, he elected for dramatic renditions of such staples as “If I Were a Rich Man” from “Fiddler on the Roof” and “C’est Moi” from “Camelot.” Most of these self-contained segment could have fit comfortable in the guest musical slot of a 1970s talk shows hosted by Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, or Dinah Shore.
As someone whose initial exposure to such show music came from those shows, I mean that in a very positive way. Mitchell’s combo of old-school charm, glorious baritone, and unquestionable acting chops turned these segments into polished gems, bringing dramatic arcs to each while never alienating those with fond memories of the originals.
Highlights included opening a capella with “Feeling Good” from “The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd,” an audience call and response to “It Ain’t Necessarily So” from “Porgy and Bess” (including a bit of spirited dance), and a crystal clear, intensely focused rendition of “Stars” from “Les Miserables” that made clear what a cinematic crime it was to cast Russell Crowe as Javert in the film version.
The Indiana Landmarks Center will house the rest of the summer season--a strong lineup that include LaChanze, Billy Porter, Judy Kuhn and more. Where the Cabaret migrates to after that has yet to be announced. Wherever it goes, it’s comforting to see that its commitment to both outstanding entertainment and elegant surroundings remain clearly focused.
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"Best in class. A truly delightful experience - over the top!"Cabaret Guest