The Valentine Theatre opens the new year on Jan. 2 with a bold, brassy Broadway classic: the Tony Award-winning musical Cabaret.
This national tour is based on New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Cabaret developed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall. The musical, by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Joe Masteroff, first opened on Broadway in 1966. Its memorable score, composed by Kander with lyrics by Ebb, includes “Cabaret,” “Willkommen,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” and “Maybe This Time.”
The cast of 'Cabaret.' The touring company performs the Broadway classic Jan. 2 at the Valentine Theatre in Toledo.
Kander and Ebb created many Broadway and contemporary classics. Their first work, “My Coloring Book,” was a hit for Barbra Streisand and earned a Grammy nomination for the two men. The 1965 musical Flora the Red Menace was Kander and Ebb’s first Broadway show, followed by Cabaret, which earned a Tony Award for music and lyrics. Their successes continued with Chicago, Woman of the Year, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and many other collaborations.
The director of this national tour, B.T. McNicholl, won the Australian “Tony,” the Helpmann Award, for Best Direction (along with Mendes and Marshall) for Cabaret, which he also staged in Paris and Madrid. Choreographer Jennifer Werner is the associate director of the Tony Award-winning The Book of Mormon Broadway, US National Tour, West End, and Australia.
Set in 1930s Berlin as the Nazis begin their rise to power, Cabaret’s story centers on the patrons and employees of a sleazy nightclub, the Kit Kat Klub, who are pursuing their own dreams and ideas of what freedom means. Some of them just want to escape what is happening by socializing at the club; others are fearful but don’t know what to do.
The characters include Clifford Bradshaw, an American who comes to Berlin poor but determined to write a successful novel; Sally Bowles, the Kit Kat’s singer who soon gets romantically involved with Bradshaw, who is renting a room from Fraulein Schneider; and Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit vendor and tenant of Fraulein Schneider’s who is interested in pursuing her. The unforgettable Emcee, the Kit Kat’s master of ceremonies, plays a pivotal role in the storyline.
“We’re thrilled to be able to get Cabaret here. It’s the national tour of a great show that hasn’t been on the road for quite awhile,” Matt Lentz, the Valentine’s director of marketing and public relations, said when announcing the performance.
Cole Witter Enlarge
Playing the Emcee at the Valentine is Erik Schneider, who is understandably excited about appearing in his first national tour.
Rehearsals started a few weeks ago in New York, and it’s “absolutely wonderful,” Schneider said, especially having the opportunity to work with their choreographer. “She’s very knowledgeable; she knows where everything is going and sees the picture perfectly in her head.”
He describes the choreography as a little bit of Fosse (Bob Fosse directed and choreographed the film), with a bit of jazz dance, and, he added, it’s a bit naughty.
“I’ve been dreaming of this role ever since I saw the movie; I believe I was 10 years old, and I’ve been wanting to play this role ever since,” Schneider said during a phone interview with The Blade. “It was fun auditioning for the part and then finally getting the part! I had all of the numbers in my book [of sheet music] and ready to go.”
Schneider thinks of the Emcee as the voice of Berlin’s young people. “He has this idea that you don’t have to take anything seriously, just come in [to the Kit Kat], enjoy yourself, don’t think about the world.
“He’s this mysterious trickster of a person ... but he is a benevolent trickster. He’s not looking to trick anybody into doing something that’s not good for them; he just wants everyone to be beautiful and have a beautiful time. He wants the world to be beautiful.”
Cabaret has become a classic because it speaks to all of us, Schneider said, “especially in the character of Fraulein Schneider, who is just trying to survive everything that the world was throwing at her. We all feel that, especially today. Everyone who sees this musical can find something of themselves in it.”
Also arriving with at the Valentine on Jan. 2 is Russell Thompson, production manager for the Cabaret tour, who grew up in Luckey, Ohio, and graduated from Eastwood High School in 1985. He now lives in Florida, designing and managing touring Broadway shows.
He was the production manager and lighting designer for The Wizard of Oz, which played the Valentine on Nov. 7, and Pippin, performed at the Stranahan Theater in March.
“I still have family in the Toledo and Bowling Green area as well as numerous friends. I always love coming back to the area visiting and getting my Tony Packo’s,” he said.
Cabaret will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 2 at the Valentine Theatre, 400 N. Superior St. Tickets, $79, $69, $59, and $49, are available from valentinetheatre.com, 419-242-2787, and at the Valentine box office. The box office will be closed Christmas Day and Dec. 26 and on New Year’s Day but will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 27 to 29 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., one hour before Cabaret’s curtain time, on Jan. 2.
Contact Sue Brickey at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.