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'Cabaret' opening postponed indefinitely

Virus concerns put hold on musical production

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BELLOWS FALLS — Main Street Arts' production of "Cabaret," set to open Friday at the Bellows Falls Opera House, has been postponed due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. 

A new date for productions of the award-winning musical set in 1931 Berlin has yet to be set, the company said on email and on its Facebook page.

"Recent recommendations from trusted medical institutions, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., recommend limiting events to fewer than 50 people. Main Street Arts takes these recommendations very seriously, which is why we have taken the precautionary move to reschedule Cabaret," the organization said. "Our top priority is always the health and safety of our event guests, performers, visitors, volunteers and staff."

Main Street Arts has been rehearsing the musical since last fall.

"We are deeply proud of this creative work and will reschedule the production as soon as we can safely do so," the group said.

Ticket holders have the option of keeping their tickets until the production can be staged, donating some or all of tickets to assist in supporting Main Street Arts or receiving a full refund.

Ticket holders are asked to call or email Main Street Arts at 802-869-2960 or hgeoffrey@mainstreetarts.org. The office is open Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Main Street Arts' artistic director David Stern is directing this production, and in a recent opinion piece in the Reformer, explained why a tale set in pre-World War II Germany is timely for present-day American audience.

"This decadent entertainment depicts the rise of the Third Reich as seen through the veil of a seedy nightclub. As the dancers cavort before us, we become distracted, laughing, titillated by the exuberant depravity," Stern wrote. "Caught up in the 1920s version of sex, drugs and rock and roll, we laugh along with the expanding nationalism and hatred."

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"Cabaret" is perhaps the musical for this moment in American history, when similar forces numb us into complacency and confusion while hate rises again," he added.

With music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, "Cabaret" was a huge hit when it opened on Broadway in 1966, winning 10 Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Featured Actor for Joel Grey as The Emcee. The movie version (1972) with Grey and Liza Minnelli earned eight Academy Awards. In addition to its title song, the show's memorable numbers include "Wilkommen," "Money," "Don't Tell Mama," "If You Could See Her," and "Tomorrow Belongs to Me."

The Main Street Arts cast features Aidan Flower Des Jardins as Sally Bowles, a British songstress performing in the seedy Kit Kat Club against the background of the Nazis' rise to power, and her relationship to American writer Cliff Bradshaw, played by Sean Roberts.

Other cast members include: Heather Martell (Fraulein Kost), Jeannie Levesque (Fraulein Schneider), Mark Tullgren (Herr Schultz), and Victor Brandt (Ernst Ludwig). The Kit Kat Club girls are Shoshana Bass, Sally Regentine, Morganna Ekkens, Aspen Moriarity, Meredith Pelton, Eliza Klein, Annesa Hartman and Aminah Pereira. They are joined by male counterparts Ezra Leonard, John Savastinuk, Sam Empey and Chris Olson.

Costuming is by Sandy Klein, with assistance by Liz Guyzinski. Choreography is by Bass and Hartman. Barbi Kurkul and Bill Lockwood are stage managing.

 "Musically speaking, John Kander was wonderful at capturing the flavor and spirit of the time and places of his shows," music director Ken Olsson said of what makes the show's music so compelling. "In "Chicago," [Kander] wrote music that fused ragtime with jazz, and really have you the feeling of being in the city of Chicago in the 1920s. With "Cabaret," his music is full of German influence (think oom-pah bands meet Kurt Weill) and really transports the audience to 1930s Berlin! This show really shows Kander and Ebb at their best as a Broadway writing team. There are great songs that show off the talented cast that have been brought together in this Main Street Arts production."

The show's continuing political relevance is what attracted Klein to work on its costumes.

"I joined "Cabaret" because its message feels more relevant than ever," she said. "While the political situation of Weimar Germany is not the same in our country, the experience of a hate filled political trend in our own country demands that the artists in our midst address it. Each actor in this show took part in the creation of the look of their character. It brings a special authenticity when an actor has buy-in with the clothing they wear."

Victoria Chertok is a Reformer correspondent.


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