Cygnet Theatre says “Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!” to CABARET playing from July 13th – September 4th. Leading ladies Karson St. John and Megan Carmitchel took time away from the stage to talk about approaching their roles, some of their favorite moments, and why they think the show is still as relevant as ever.
Set in Berlin just before the Second World War, the Kit Kat Club is a place where you can “leave your troubles outside” and be entertained by the alluring performers that grace the cabarets stage. Hosted by the Emcee, played by Karson St .John, is charming, with a smile that starts sweet and turns dangerous. This seedy club is where you can lose yourself from reality for a bit if you wish but in the end, some hard truths can’t be ignored.
Sally Bowles, played by Megan Carmitchel, is the headliner of the club who shines on stage singing and dancing while living in the darker realities of life when off stage.
CABARET was a hugely successful musical when it premiered in 1966 and proves to continue to be an audience favorite. St. John says that this musical continues to have the power it does today because it is a great musical that also has a powerful message.
“One of the reasons I love this show so much is that it has all the elements of the best traditional musical theatre– recognizable songs, sparkly dance numbers, fun, and flash– but underneath it all lies a powerful story that is chilling to the bone, especially at this moment in our history.”
It’s the combination of the musical elements with the message that leads to the moments that are some of their favorites that they are excited for the audience to experience. For Carmitchel there are multiple moments she is excited for the audience to see.
“Linda Libby who plays Fräulein Schneider) singing “What Would You Do?” It’s such a haunting, powerful moment. There is a tap dance/stylized fight that happens in Act II. It’s just such well-executed acting, choreography, and fight choreography.
At the end of Act I, it is the only moment when the entire company is on stage together. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a very important moment that I’m looking forward to experiencing with the audience every night.”
St. John agrees that the first Act finale is something that is not to be missed, “The end of Act I will send the audience into intermission with chills up their spines.”
The role of Sally is not one for the faint of heart, with many standout performers tackling the character like Liza Minnelli, Judi Dench, and Jessie Buckley who just won this year’s Olivier Award for the role. Megan says that role of Sally is written in such a way that it continues to resonate with audiences.
“I think what resonates with audiences about Sally is her journey from unwavering naivety to what’s going on around her to it completely smacking her in the face. How many of us have had that moment, where the truth just suddenly hits us in the face? The role is also written in such a way that each actor playing Sally gets to bring their own voice to it. It’s special because you’re never going to see the same Sally Bowles twice.”
Karson returns to the Cygnet as the Kit Kat Club’s Emcee,a role she is revisiting after her SD Critics Circle Award-winning performance in 2011. St. John says that revisiting this piece now it feels like it hits a bit differently.
“Last time, I saw what was happening in the show as a possibility for our future if we didn’t change our direction, but this time, I recognize it as already happening. As we learned in our dramaturgical research this time around, fascism is happening in this country right now, as we speak. It’s growing like wildfire actually, and it’s terrifying. I always grew up thinking that things like the Holocaust “could never happen nowadays”, yet here we are… I pray that this warning will help to open some eyes to the importance of staying awake, and standing up for what’s right, even when it feels impossible to do so. It’s the only way we can turn this ship around.”
How To Get Tickets
You can see CABARET at Cygnet Theatre from July 13th through September 4th. . For ticket information, you can go to http://www.cygnettheatre.com
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