Cast of St. Louis Rep's CABARET, Including Nathan Lee Graham & Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Set for Run at Cincinnati Playhouse, 10/19-11/16
Show-stopping choreography. Unforgettable songs. Playhouse audiences are invited to take a seat at the Kit Kat Club as the excitement of big Broadway musicals returns to the Robert S. Marx Theatre stage with CABARET, from Oct. 19 through Nov. 16. English singer Sally Bowles and American novelist Clifford Bradshaw fall into a stormy romance as Nazi influence rises in pre-war Berlin and the political axis shifts.
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, best known for helming the acclaimed Broadway revival of Ragtime (for which she earned a 2010 Tony Award nomination for best director), is the director and choreographer for The Playhouse's production of CABARET. For her, the musical's enduring popularity is not surprising.
"We are swept into the world of 1930s Berlin with one of the best Broadway scores of the 20th century," said Milgrom Dodge. "I believe a musical that draws you in by packing a wallop of entertainment while giving you meaningful themes to examine is the best kind of theatre, and CABARET does both, making it always relevant through the decades."
CABARET began life as two separate novels by English writer Christopher Isherwood that were published collectively as The Berlin Stories. The vignettes came from diaries Isherwood kept while living in Berlin from 1929 to 1933, and one of them - "Sally Bowles" - was adapted into the 1951 play and 1955 film, I Am a Camera.
While legendary director and producer Harold Prince was not the first person to consider adapting The Berlin Stories into a musical, he did connect Isherwood's fable of a nation blind to the rising propaganda of the Nazi Party with the 1960s American parallels of the Civil Rights Movement and the escalation of the Vietnam War. Prince recruited Joe Masteroff to write the book and turned to the up-and-coming composer/lyricist team of John Kander and Fred Ebb to create the musical's unique sound. CABARET was just the third collaboration for Kander and Ebb, but it cemented their place in musical theatre history with such iconic songs as "Don't Tell Mama," "Two Ladies," "If You Could See Her" and the much-imitated title number.
The original Broadway production of CABARET opened on Nov. 20, 1966, and ran for 1,165 performances, making it one of the most successful musicals of the decade. The show won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for best musical of the season, as well as eight Tony Awards, including best musical. The subsequent 1972 film relaunched the career of director/choreographer Bob Fosse and made a star of Liza Minnelli, both of whom won Academy Awards for their work.
CABARET features some of the most iconic characters in musical theatre history. The cast is headed by Broadway and New York stage veterans Nathan Lee Graham (The Wild Party and Priscilla Queen of the Desert as well as blockbuster films Sweet Home Alabama, Hitchand Zoolander) as the Emcee, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka (the recent revival of A Little Night Music) as Clifford Bradshaw, Liz Pearce (Billy Elliot; she is also a University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music graduate) as Sally Bowles, Mary GorDon Murray (whose many Broadway credits include Hands on a Hardbody, Footloose and the revival of Little Me, for which she received a best actress Tony nomination) as Fräulein Schneider and Michael Marotta (whose New York credits include the bicentennial salute to Noel Coward, Mad About the Boy) as Herr Schultz. The cast also includes Bradley Benjamin as Rosie/Ensemble/Assistant Choreographer/Dance Captain, Blake Clendenin as German Sailor/Ensemble, Carl Draper as Bobby/German Sailor/Ensemble, Blake Ellis as Ernst Ludwig, Timothy Hughes as Customs Officer/Max/Ensemble, Jolina Javier as Frenchy/Ensemble, Dennis Kenney as German Sailor/Ensemble, Sean Maddox as Victor/German Sailor/Ensemble, Angelica Richie as Lulu/Ensemble and Dana Winkle as Fritzie/Fräulein Kost/Ensemble. All are making their Playhouse debuts.