Reviewer's Rating

When the world is falling apart, sometimes all you can do is celebrate. At least, that seems to be the aim of Tiergarten, the latest project put on by Death of Classical. Known for their concerts in crypts, catacombs, and cemeteries, Tiergarten is a bit of a departure from past work: it’s a full-blown cabaret, inspired by the complexity of Germany’s Weimar Republic era. Through the lens of celebrating the vibrant art that comes from societies at their most corrupt, Tiergarten takes us on a time warp through the centuries, never letting us forget the parallels with our own modern times. 

There is always something clandestine about a Death of Classical performance, and Tiergarten is no different. Entering the basement of an unassuming Catholic church on the Lower East Side, guests are treated to a sea of other spectators (many who followed the 1920s dress code suggestion) and a cocktail bar paired with a charcuterie buffet, in true cabaret form. The ambience is fantastic. 

With the entrance of fabulous emcee Kim David Smith, the night kicks off. Ten acts (give or take) take us backwards in time, starting at the Weimar Republic and hurtling back through eras like World War I, the Salem Witch Trials, and biblical times before we arrive at the finale, the Big Bang. The songs are cleverly chosen for each era, and more than one performance will leave you with goosebumps. Highlights include Melina Jaharis singing “Azucena’s song” from Il trovatore while an interpretive dancer mimes being dragged to a stake and burned, or Smith’s performance of “Nature Boy” as a burlesque Jesus dances her clothes away. In the Fall of Rome, Ariadne Grief as Poppea and Luke Elmer as Nerone sang “Pur Ti Miro” with an unbelievable tenderness, followed by an audience favorite of Aaron Reeder singing “Arrivederci Roma.” And perhaps most stunning of all, Amara Granderson received a well-deserved applause after her rendition of “Strange Fruit” left a palpable impression on the audience. 

Throughout it all, emcee Kim David Smith continues to jauntily point out the wealth inequality, war, corruption, etc from these eras – all disturbingly familiar in our own. Tiergarten oscillates cheerily through the lightest of social commentary and absurdist fun. And really, what more could we ask for? It all ends triumphantly with Kylie Minogue’s “All the Lovers,” leaving us with a vibrant final impression and a lot of gorgeous performances to mull over. Tiergarten brings together a wonderful variety of performances and ties them together cohesively and compellingly. It’s sure to be a great night out.   

Conceived, written, and directed by Andrew Ousley

A Death of Classical Production 

Performers include: Kim David Smith, Aaron Reeder, Amara Granderson, Ariadne Greif, Luke Elmer, Melina Jaharis, Liana Zhen-ai, Dylan Contreras, Pearls Daily

Runs through 19 April 2024