Cabaret MKE Continues its Trilogy with ‘Prick of the Apothecary’
The diverse artists who comprise Cabaret Milwaukee have honed the skill of immersing their audience in the sights, sounds and news of the 1940s, building their world around the pillars and tables of the Astor Pub inside the historic Astor Hotel. The audience is split down the middle by the stage and musicians; a period chrome microphone in the center anchors the minimal set. Actors mill about at the bar, sit at tables with audience members and spread the world of their story throughout the entire space. Musicians Stephanie Lippert and Elias Holman round out the production beautifully.
In the second segment of an ongoing trilogy, a 1940s radio station presents a radio drama called The Prick of the Apothecary. The story follows an army sergeant turned private detective in his search to take down a local Milwaukee crime boss, as well as a pair of criminally insane siblings on a quest for revenge.
The somewhat uneven cast is shepherded through their story by the fittingly noir voice of Nick Firer as Richard Howling, host of “The Howling Radio Hour.” Acts ranged from songs of Ovaltine and love gone wrong from sparkling songstress Dora Diamond, to humorous home ec tips from Laura Holterman as Mrs. Millie. Some era-specific jokes fall flat, while in the play-within-the-play laughs abound in the antic performance from Chris Goode as Daniel, a “limp noodle” and wannabe detective, opposite the alluring Kira Walters as undercover and underappreciated agent, Amanda.
The episodic production moves quickly, spurred along with songs and skits from the charming Howling Radio Hour Jinglers (Hayley San Fillipo, Sarah Ann Mellström and Selena Milewski). They delighted with mostly original jingles for local products, spurring the audience to song with a favorite for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
As with any good serial, the radio drama ends on a cliffhanger; Milwaukee audiences must wait until February for the next installment.
Through Nov. 12 at The Astor Pub, 924 E. Juneau Ave. Tickets available at the door or online at brownpapertickets.com.