Guest Blog: Adam Norrad Discusses LOT's Production of CABARET
By Adam Norrad
Stepping in to this show is a big deal for me. How do you take a role that has been immortalized by amazing talents such as Joel Grey, Alan Cumming, and Adam Pascale? No matter how good of a job I do, there are comparisons that are going to been drawn. How do you make a role your own when it has already belonged to so many talented men?
I haven't seen the film in years, and I haven't watched any clips of Cumming's go aside from a few times on Youtube (I wasn't too thrilled by his performance). I decided to skip re-watching anything at the risk of influencing my own take beyond the faint memories I have of Joel Grey's asexualisms and Alan Cumming's....whatever it was he did. It was too much sexy and not enough intention for me, but I digress.
I went into my first rehearsal with no choices made and just read. Most of the English words came out fine but I had no idea what I was saying in German (I play the Train Conductor as well as a few other smaller roles while still the Emcee). Our Director Jeremy Hutton just let me play. I never bother with why's or how's at the beginning of flushing out a character, especially one so inhuman as the Emcee. At one point I lost my script and had to call line every other sentence (Actually that's how I learned my lines... don't tell my SM...) and that really opened me up to make wild and bold choices because not even I knew what was coming next. When I finally started stringing all these shades of a character together I next had to go in and humanize my character. I had to give him reasons behind his choices, opinions about who he is with and what they do, and repercussions to his actions.
The end result I gave myself was a proper arc through the show with a complex character who gets to play impetus to the show rather than observe and comment like a narrator. Rather with our staging I get to be the cause of the entire show. I get to guide all of the characters through their interactions with each other. I bring everyone together, and I get to pull them apart as well. That kind of direction informed me what qualities my Emcee needed. He had to have traits that made him believably able to make and ruin lives just by thinking it.
On top of all this, Working with the very talented Erin Brookhouse as my choreographer and Mark-Anthony Del Brocco as my musical director was every Emcee's dream come true.
It's as if the pair of them tried to make the other's instructions impossible. "Oh, you're in a kickline, going into partner lifts, followed by double fan kicks? Hold this high A at the same time" they'd say. "You're running out of breath in the patter song? Here's a synchronized cardio cannon dance." This show is constantly testing my technique, I'm sure I would break apart if I didn't know exactly how to attack this beast of a show from a technical standpoint. Maybe as a direct result, getting through a show in a night feels like a masterpiece. When I'm getting the applause at the end of the night I feel like I've earned every clap. This is the most challenging work I've ever completed and I've bettered myself with every day I've worked on this.
I thought I would never love a role more than Frank'N'Furter or Trekkie Monster but this is by far my favourite persona I've ever put on. I'll be sad to let this one go. Though now that we are open and on our feet and I actually have time outside the theater I'm enjoying getting back to cooking, cleaning and comic books. Makes for a nice juxtaposition from the crazy-eyed Nazi-demon I play in the evenings.
About the Author
Dark and campy characters seem to be Norrad's thing, just ask his work history. A still fresh face in the theatre scene,he's been seen in his home of Toronto flushing out not one but three leading roles swing as a Rocker, a Drag Queen, and a Film Maker (lead swing, RENT; LOT); a depressed, quiet as a mouse, golden voiced loner (Otto, Spring Awakening); and a stuck-in-a-rut writer who just wants a shot at the big stage, and the high notes (Jeff, Title of Show; LOT). He also played the porn addicted, horned and horny-with-a-heart-of-gold Trekkie Monster here at the LOT on and off for 3 years (Trekkie Monster, Avenue Q) and his biggest claim to fame so far, 3 years in a row as an 8 inch stilettoed, nearly naked, transvestite-mad scientist (Frank'N'Furter, The Rocky Horror Show); With a resumé as versatile as his voice and acting chops, Norrad is proud to currently be adding his own volatile, sexy take on yet another character part as the Emcee in Cabaret at the Lower Ossington Theatre, Other credits include the Tennesee project, Niagara Theatre and Entertainment and the Toronto Operetta Theatre Company, and has worked as a co-producer, choreographer, teacher, costumer in addition to his triple threat performing.
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamNorrad!