Through the looking glass: Berlin to Broadway will make you fall asleep

The lights are dimmed and the stage is set and out walks a familiar face onto the stage named Christine Nicholson. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been enamored with Broadway shows. So imagine my surprise when I almost fell asleep during City Theatre’s production of “Berlin to Broadway,” directed by Adrienne Sher.

Now I’m all about history and singing, but I am not a fan of the two together in a 2 and half hour long show. When the playwright Kurt Weill mixed the two, I don’t know what he was thinking, because history and cabaret songs don’t mix, unless you’re watching the Pussy Cat Dolls that is.

“Berlin to Broadway” is definitely not for the younger kids and it is not for the 20-somethings either. I watched as the teachers from City Theatre along with familiar student actors belted out cabaret song from the nineteen hundreds, half of them I could not understand their meaning.

Although the singing was decent with the females being able to go from an alto note to a soprano note and the men belting out baritone tunes, I just could not keep my focus for the entire show, because the lights were all over the place and the acting was boring. The other thing that bothered me about “Berlin to Broadway” is there were no specific roles in the show, but a 24 member ensemble cast whose parts could easily be confused.

Ever since I was a little girl I have always been enamored with Broadway shows. So imagine my surprise when I almost fell asleep during City Theatres production of “Berlin to Broadway”

The familiar face Megan O’Laughlin was delightful as a somber maid who cleaned up after everyone else in the neighborhood bar which most of the scenes took place in. City Theatre Professor Christine Nicholson had surprising vocals, because she is usually a director and not an actress in the shows at City Theatre. Nicholson also played a mean accordion. The familiar Alejandro Padilla could have been stronger in his vocals when he sang the Frank Sinatra’s song “Mack the Knife.” Padilla lacked Sinatra’s oomph and stage presence.

One of my favorite scenes in the show featured Julian Sandoval and Amsale Darden as the “Surabaya Dancers” who danced their hearts out, expressing how a love affair goes wrong. The sensuality of the dancing and the love between the two actors, really made the audience member feel their pain. The stage combat and physicality of the dancers was also very impressive.

Another part of the show that I enjoyed was the band which consisted of various actors of the show, including Steve Ibarra on drums. The band had a trumpet, an accordion,
a piano and a guitar, along with many other instruments. The band had good timing and stayed on key.

Overall the show was decent, but I think it is more for the older set of folks who can understand the jokes, songs and history references that the actors say throughout the show.
Berlin to Broadway was a bore for me because I did not understand the historical references or the love affairs in between songs or the lyrics. The singing was first-rate and the band was a step up form a traditional open-mic show.

“Berlin to Broadway” runs through May 16 in the Art Court Theatre.