Eva told me weeks ago to mark March 22 on my calendar. We have not seen all that much of each other since Christmas...she's been working an awful lot of overtime, leaving both of us "sitting alone in our room" far too often. Mystery date night!
She wouldn't tell me what this date entailed, only that it would be a night I'd enjoy and that it involved a bit of travel.
Life is a cabaret, old chum Come to the cabaret
Little did I know it would also involve seeing an old chum. Craig was my closest friend for a couple of years of high school. HIs passion for music made (and makes) mine look like a passing fancy: he was playing trumpet at a technically professional level in grade nine. We bonded over a love of brass music, but drifted apart as so many friends do...only to reconnect on Facebook many years later and pick up the threads of a friendship as if they'd never dropped. (It's interesting to note he also drifted apart from a woman he had a huge crush on back then, a woman I also counted among my friends...only to reconnect with her years later on Facebook: they're married now. They got married in the music room of the high school we all went to.)
Put down the knitting, the book and the broom It's time for a holiday Life is a cabaret, old chum So come to the cabaret
And so March 22 finally arrived. We piled into our new car...my first time in it. I realized where we were headed as soon as we turned south off the 401 towards Hamilton. I knew Craig was playing in a production of CABARET at the Theatre Aquarius. We'd been chatting about it: he said it was one of the better musicals he'd played, that it was a whole lot of fun, that the band "really cooked"...all things that seemed calculated to make me want to
Come taste the wine
Come hear the band
Come blow that horn
In fact, I told him at one point how much I wanted to see him in this production (which he immediately copied and sent to Eva with a wink; it had been planned that I would see him for about three weeks at that point.)
Start celebrating right this way Your table's waiting
We were to meet at Slainte Irish Pub for dinner before the show. I copied Google Map directions for the place and even armed with them, we still somehow got ourselves hopelessly lost. Hamilton is a mess of one-way streets, none of them going the right way, and Slainte turned out to be on something closer to an alley than a street. But with help, we eventually made it, and had an excellent and quite reasonably priced dinner. I'd recommend this place heartily to anyone who can find it.
We sat with the band, and afterwards went to the theatre. I felt like I had an all-access pass: before the show, Craig took us up to see his perch above the stage, "where the Kit Kat Klub Band" would soon be belting out the tunes. I got to flip through his book...the music didn't look overly challenging at first glance, but I hadn't heard it yet.
What use permitting some prophet of doom To wipe every smile away Life is a cabaret, old chum So come to the cabaret
Actually, I'd heard almost nothing of this music, and knew less than that about this musical. I had archived on some level that it was set in 1930s Berlin, that Liza Minnelli had played some sort of iconic role...and that was about it.
Right from the opening flourish, it was obvious we were in for a treat. The band really DID "cook"...just a little ensemble of trumpet, sax, clarinet, bass, keyboards and percussion, but the score was masterfully written so that each instrument could play off all the others, making the group sound bigger and bolder than it was.
And the actors! I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't that level of panache and showmanship. The singing, the dancing...all excellent. You'll laugh (the Emcee alone is worth the price of admission) and you'll cry (the ending is....dark) and you'll marvel at a wonderful story well told.
Afterwards, we got the rest of the backstage tour, and then parted ways for the trip home. Got back here a little after midnight. All in all, a great night. If you get a chance to see Cabaret, do it...even if Craig Robertson isn't playing trumpet in it.
Life is a cabaret, old chum It's only a cabaret, old chum And I love a cabaret