The next Broadway musical to bring a little song and dance to New Orleans is Cabaret, playing at the Saenger Theatre from April 5 through 10.
Cabaret is the story of two different yet intertwined facets of the dark underbelly of 1930s Berlin. It explores both the Nazis rise to power during that period and the political turmoil that ensues, as well as the sexual and off-color world of the Kit Kat Klub. This cabaret club is a place for people to come to escape the trouble going on around them by distracting themselves with risqué entertainment, booze and prostitution.
Sally Bowles is only 19 yet finds herself at the forefront of the debauchery as the main act at the Kit Kat Klub. Explains Andrea Goss, who plays the lead role of Sally Bowles in the travelling production of Cabaret, “On the surface Sally is charming, funny, a performer in every second of her life. She has created this party girl veneer to survive. But underneath it all she is young, scared, and naïve and desperately grasps at anything or anyone to survive in the gritty, seedy cabaret scene.”
What she is grasping at in the show happens to be the young American writer Cliff Bradshaw. When Cliff turns up in Berlin to work on his novel, he suddenly gets caught up in all the depravity and seduction as he falls for the beautiful but troubled Sally. Meanwhile, in a parallel relationship, Fraulein Schneider owns a nearby boarding house and is engaged to marry her elderly suitor, Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit shop owner. As the show progresses, Herr Schultz becomes more and more threatened by the Nazis, ultimately causing trouble for his relationship with the frightened and vulnerable Fraulein Schneider.
There is still so much prejudice and hatred all over the world and this musical speaks to how humanity lets it happen. I think as long as there is prejudice and hate in the world it is still an extremely relevant show.
Cabaret is full of great music, fun dance numbers and dirty jokes. Unlike most musicals, the ensemble members make up the band, so these folks have to play at least one musical instrument in addition to their singing, acting and dancing. It makes for a light-hearted, silly show on the surface, full of naughty innuendos and humorous antics. But Cabaret also has a much more serious level to it as well. Goss says, “The story is told and commented on through cabaret numbers in the Kit Kat Klub. This allows for the audience to be pulled in through the humor and wit in the performance numbers. But in the end it turns the table on them and asks them to sit with some tough questions…. This story asks the question about how people could have let the Nazis come to power. Was it ignorance, fear, not wanting to deal with it?” All of which the musical addresses through its music and storytelling, delving deeper into these darker elements further along in the show.
Expect fabulous talent, an excellent score and a captivating storyline. You will laugh and sing and want to dance…normal reactions to any good show. But you might also squirm a bit, as you’re confronted with some uncomfortable and awkward topics and some real powerful and emotional stuff.
The Tony award-winning Cabaret is based on the 1951 play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten, which in turn was an adaptation of the 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood. There have been more than 30 productions of the hit musical since it first debuted in 1966, including one film adaptation starring Liza Minelli. When asked why she thinks this show has been as successful and long-running as it has been, Goss replied, “First of all, the writing is truly incredible. The music is well-known and loved. It is funny, intelligent, and moving, and most of all, still relevant today. There is still so much prejudice and hatred all over the world and this musical speaks to how humanity lets it happen. I think as long as there is prejudice and hate in the world it is still an extremely relevant show.”
For better or worse, life really is a cabaret.
For more information, check out the Saenger website.