On June 1, the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish will undergo a seedy transformation, it’s bright lights and open spaces turned on their heads to reveal a dingy, trashy theater space.
In short, it will be perfect, according to Rebecca Schaffer, the director of the Whitefish Theatre Company’s upcoming epic, the classic musical “Cabaret.”
“Hopefully it’ll be a sort of eye-opening experience,” Schaffer said in an interview with the Beacon last week.
“Cabaret: The Musical” opens June 1, with shows on June 2-4 and June 8-11 as well. All performances are at 7:30 at the O’Shaughnessy Center.
A Broadway favorite that debuted in 1966, the Tony-award winning “Cabaret” takes place in 1931 Germany at the Kit Kat Klub, and follows young American writer Cliff Bradshaw and English cabaret performer Sally Bowles as they navigate the wild and opulent nightclub scene. Meanwhile, the Nazi regime begins its rise to power in Weimar Germany.
It’s a musical with great song and dance, Schaffer said, but it was also written to be commentary on fascism in Europe, based on a book written by Christopher Isherwood.
“It’s dark, too,” Schaffer said. “It’s a story about the rise of fascism in the early 1930s Weimar.”
Mikey Winn, the actor playing the all-seeing Master of Ceremonies (or Emcee) role, said the timing for the show is noteworthy, because the United States is currently embroiled in intense national and global politics. The show itself makes fun of politics and the social climate, as well as talking about sex.
Though it was written about a specific time, Winn said it was interesting to work with material that can still be applicable in today’s political firestorm. In general, it’s a great production based on its musical merits alone, he said.
“The music is awesome,” Winn said. “I love this show. It’s really fun because it’s set up in vignettes, with scenes that take place within and out of the cabaret. It’s cool to see how the writing melds the two worlds together.”
The June production of “Cabaret” is also special in its cast of characters and crew. Schaffer and Winn are staple members of Viscosity Theatre, which hosts local cabaret performances in the Flathead as well as original productions.
As a director, Schaffer typically works with developing new work and working collaboratively with artists to write new plays, but she also likes to direct one or two established productions. “Cabaret” felt like a fit, and soon Schaffer found herself inundated with talent from around the valley.
Twenty-eight musicians and actors from all types of local theater groups and bands have stepped up to perform together, she said.
“(The cast) is from all sorts of different artistic communities,” Schaffer said. “I think it’s such an important and timely piece, so there was a lot of interest in it.”
The show features Kendra Timm as Sally Bowles, David Blair as Clifford Bradshaw, Erin Grayce as Fraulein Schneider, Becky Rygg as Fraulein Fritzie Kost, and Dave Von Kleist as Herr Schultz.
Audience members should expect a bawdy good time, Schaffer said, with stages set up throughout the tables to give the space a true cabaret feel. The show is typically for audience members 18 and older, but Schaffer said parents can bring teenagers at the parents’ own discretion.
“It’s going to be a really good time,” Schaffer said. “They might be a little shocked and amazed, but I think that’s good.”
Tickets are $25 for reserved table or mezzanine seating with food and wine available for purchase. Tickets for the sneak preview performance on June 1 are $10 sold only at the door. Call 862-5371 or visit www.whitefishtheatreco.org for more information.
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