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By Paul Freeman. For The Daily News. Life is still a cabaret. Broadway By The Bay is presenting the Tony and Oscar-winning musical “Cabaret,” Sept. 13 to 29, at Redwood City’s Fox Theatre. It boasts a riveting book by Joe Masteroff (based on the writings of novelist Christopher Isherwood and playwright John Van Druten), stirring music by John Kander and razor-sharp lyrics by Fred Ebb. And 47 years after first dazzling Broadway, the show’s messages remain intensely relevant.
Brandon Jackson, who is directing the production, says, “The story of ‘Cabaret’ dates all the way back to Isherwood’s 1929, “The Berlin Stories.” I’ve read Isherwood describe how he wanted to write a book about people who were rejected by society as some way scandalous or improper, I wonder whom he’d write about today, When the first stage production of ‘Cabaret’ premiered on Broadway in the ’60s, America was pointe shoes for adults dealing with its fair share of social issues, namely the civil rights movement, For all that has changed since that time, we unfortunately are still very much a divided society, ‘Cabaret’ asks us to question the artificial indicators that separate us, to understand that people are people, and to reconsider how we treat those different from us.”..
Jackson found inspiration in Isherwood’s novel. “What I found was a story of hope, from people who really didn’t have much else to hold on to. I gained a tremendous amount of respect for the performers of the period, who were determined to create, in the midst of a world that was bent on dividing and destroying.”. Redwood City’s Amie Shapiro, who plays the flamboyant cabaret singer Sally Bowles, says, “It’s a great reflection piece. Not only to reflect on the cause and effect of Nazi Germany and that rich history of that time, but also of personal reflection. There’s a song in Act Two called ‘What Would You Do.’ It’s a great question to ask. This show reminds us how important it is to embrace diversity. The show was written during the civil rights movement in America, is set in Berlin before World War II, and now we get to perform it in the Bay Area during a new civil rights movement that is very much a part of this community.”.
Broadway By The Bay Artistic Director Amanda Folena says, “What’s so great about ‘Cabaret’ is, it pushes the envelope, It really makes us take a look at ourselves, These themes of tolerance, hatred, lust, social injustice, are all things that we carry with pointe shoes for adults us and we have to learn from and try to grow from, While the show is vastly entertaining, the book itself is brilliant, the scene work, the dialogue, takes us to a new level, Then the songs within that are so metaphorical and they really turn us all on our head, It’s important to try to do pieces such as ‘Cabaret’ that get you involved in a new way, besides, ‘Oh, that was so much fun,’ but really get you thinking, That’s what makes it art, And it’s always good to remember that musical theater has the power to do that, as well, And this piece does it better than most.”..
There is a talk-back event with the company’s dramaturge, on Sept. 22, following the Sunday matinee, and a question-and-answer session with Folena, at 1:15 p.m. on Sept. 15 and 21, prior to the matinee curtain. Folena is delighted with the cast. “There are so many talented young women in the Bay Area and this is a part (Bowles) that every young woman wants to play. It was really understanding not only the vocal and physical demands, but also the subtleties of emotion, her arc. So it was one of the toughest casting decisions we’ve ever had to make. Amie Shapiro, when she sings those songs, transports you to a different plane. It became obvious that, in the Kit Kat Klub, especially, she was going to be able to take the audience on the journey that it needed to go. When she sang ‘Cabaret’ at the audition, we knew we’d found our Sally.”.
Alex Rodriguez portrays the provocative Emcee, Folena says, “Alex has done the show so many times, but has never done the part, Now he’s able to really take command of the stage, and it’s lovely to see him do that, Brandon is using him a lot in the show to pointe shoes for adults help us move through the play, more than is necessarily scripted, It’s more engaging that way.”, Broadway By The Bay will put its own imprint on “Cabaret.” Folena says, “What’s great about this show is that it’s been done so many times, We keep trying to figure out ways to better tell the story, That’s why so many new songs have been written for the movie and the revivals, What’s great is that you can pull the best from all those different sources and then make the show your own and make it as palpable as possible.”..
Jackson says, “In the film, all of the musical numbers occur in the Kit Kat Klub, and those are reserved for Sally and the Emcee. However, in the stage production, other prominent characters also get to share their stories through song. The result is a more balanced production, and it provides increased opportunities for audiences of all walks of life to relate to the story. “Musically, we’ve kept all of the fan favorites, but be prepared to experience them in a new way, with more edge, and deeper relevance,” Jackson says. “Ironically, to do this, we just needed to be true to the actual decadence of the former Berlin cabaret. We’ve decided to remove the glitz that you’ll find in most musicals, and really recreate the hard hitting, provocative, in-your-face performances that existed in the period. The proverbial theatrical corset is coming off, for sure. Our music director, Sean Kana, and choreographer, Kristin Kusanovich, have been great in orchestrating music and creating movement that is both accessible and interesting to modern audiences and still true to the period.”.
Folena says, “Our choreographer, Kristin, who’s from Santa Clara, is doing a phenomenal job, She’s taking all the influences from what has been done before, but she’s creating shifts in the movements as the change and cacophony that’s happening outside the Kit Kat Klub inevitably manifests itself physically in these people, Things get a little darker, a little more uncertain, So the journey of the movement, from a storytelling perspective, is very moving, I’m proud of the pointe shoes for adults work she’s done.”..