“Put down the knitting, the book and the broom…” it’s time for Cabaret at the Maltz Jupiter Theater. And, according to artistic director Andrew Kato, you can put down your recollections of the Liza Minnelli Joel Gray “sweet and clean-cut musical and get ready for some down and dark performances of a down and dark play with music.”
“This is the 1998 revival that is more powerful and grittier than the movie we all remember so well,” Kato said. “We are really lucky to be able to bring this to South Florida with B.T. Nicholl, the premier director authorized to produce this version.
“In the original musical, the character of Cliff is hinted to be gay or bisexual and in the movie they made him bisexual but the theme wasn’t developed,” said Bruce Linser, a local actor who plays the role of Cliff. “In this version Cliff’s homosexuality and his wish to hide it becomes a major theme that adds to the drama of the play. It’s an exciting enhancement.”
“B.T. is really a great director to work with,” Linser said. “He knows what he wants but he’s not afraid to let the actors have a little fun with the production – within reason, of course.”
Christopher Sloan, a New York actor down for the role of the Emcee agreed. “There has to be some flexibility or the play would be stilted and impossible to watch but everything in this production hangs together so well you don’t want to go too far. It’s an incredibly tight production.”
Sloan, who has performed in the play five different times, also raved about working at the Maltz.
“It’s an incredible theater,” he said. “It’s beautifully designed and appointed and everyone is absolutely professional. I’m thrilled to be working here.”
“We do our best,” said Kato who grew up in Jupiter and remembers waiting table at the old Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater, which was morphed into the Maltz. “When I was offered the position here in 2005 I was a little hesitant about the location but the theater’s motto has always been ‘If you give them quality, they will come,’ and so far that’s been true.”
A unique aspect of the Maltz production is the integration of the musicians directly into the action of the play “It’s been an incredible experience working with the musicians during rehearsal,” Linser said. “They’re an integral part of the play, not an add on just before production. It makes a huge difference.”
Cabaret is a Tony-award winning musical based on the book by Joe Masteroff, the play by John Van and stories by Christopher Isherwood with a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb. The original Broadway show ran in 1967 with revivals in 1987 and 1998. The last production, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical - was based on the 1993 Sam Mendes-directed Donmar Warehouse production from London. Co-directed by Mendes and Rob Marshall and choreographed by Marshall, it held a 2377-performance run at Studio 54, becoming the third longest-running revival in Broadway musical history. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is producing this version, with direction from B.T. Nicholl, one of the few directors given permission to direct this particular revival of the show.
Cabaret follows the story of Cliff Bradshaw (Bruce Linser), an American writer who has traveled to Berlin in search of inspiration. In Berlin he finds 19-year-old Sally Bowles (Kate Shindle), an English cabaret performer working at the seedy Kit Kat Klub. Their relationship evolves and she moves in with him. As the Nazis’ control grows stronger, their lives are thrown into disarray. Overseeing the action throughout the show is the Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub, serving as a bell weather for the tenuous and threatening state of late Weimar Germany.
Show times vary; single tickets $43 - $60. Phone: (561) 575-2223. The show runs thorough Jan 29. Visit www.jupitertheatre.org/shows/cabaret for more information.
As a special opportunity for the show, the Theatre is offering a limited number of extra-special VIP seats at cabaret-style tables, including two complimentary beverages per person and cast interaction before and during the show. VIP tickets are available by phone or at the box office; call 561-575-2223.
Be sure to check out Pride Night on Friday Jan 13 co-sponsored by South Florida Gay News and Compass Gay & Lesbian Community Center.