All-Male Production of Cabaret, Reset in Modern-Day Russia, Will Play Seattle
By Adam Hetrick
The Tony Award-winning Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret, based on Christopher Isherwood's stories of Nazi-era Berlin, will be reset in modern-day Russia when a new, all-male staging of the 1966 work begins performances in Seattle next month.
The two-year-old theatre company Arts on the Waterfront, run by artistic director Mickey Rowe, will stage the production that will star Russian-born filmmaker Wes Hurley as the Emcee. Hurley recently documented his experiences growing up gay in the Soviet Union in an article for the Huffington Post. He is also at work on a documentary about his experience.
The new setting for the musical will take direct aim at Russia's stringent anti-LGBT policies.
Staged Nov. 28-Dec. 13 for free in the lobby of the Cornish Playhouse (formerly the Intiman Theatre), the immersive production will transport the original German-set story to modern-day Russia, incorporating footage of the current neo-Nazi movement in the country. Rowe directs. Velocity Dance Center's Dylan Ward will choreograph.
"I have always wanted to do a production of Cabaret dealing with LGBTQ marriage equality, because the story lends itself to the situation so well, particularly Fräulein Schneider and Herr Shultz's storyline," Rowe told Playbill.com. "And, with songs like 'Married' and 'If You Could See Her Through My Eyes' - it is really just a perfect fit. When I became aware of the situation in Russia I knew that if the production was going to happen, it had to happen now."
"We have many Russian speakers in the cast, so we will be translating a little bit of the German into Russian," he continued. Audiences can expect a few images of Putin incorporated throughout the show. "Most of the changes are fairly cosmetic, but that's really all we need to transport the audience. We also have a few snowy magic tricks up our sleeves."
The all-male cast will also feature actors and members of the Seattle drag community, including Brain Culbertson as Sally Bowles, Dave Natale as Fräulein Schneider, Paul Sobrie as Herr Schultz, Zach Simonson as Cliff Bradshaw and Connor Thompson as Fräulein Kost.
Cabaret features a book by Joe Masteroff, based on the John Van Druten play "I Am a Camera" and the original stories by Christopher Isherwood. John Kander and Fred Ebb penned the Tony-Award winning score to the musical that features such hits as "Willkommen," "So What," "Don't Tell Mama" and the title song.
A Broadway revival of the musical starring Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams will begin performances at Studio 54 in March 2014.
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