Featured photo: HPCT Cabaret Kit Kat Klub by Brad McMillan
High Point Community Theatre will perform Cabaret in three evening shows at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 27, 28 and 29 and at 2 p.m. on March 1 at the High Point Theatre (recommended for ages 14 and up, as it contains adult language and situations). The show runs for approximately 2½ hours with a 15-minute intermission, said HPCT director/music director Mike Lasley.
“Welcome to the infamous Kit Kat Klub, where the Emcee, Sally Bowles, and a raucous ensemble take the stage nightly to tantalize the crowd – to leave their troubles outside… Come hear some of the most memorable songs in theatre history,” the HPCT website states.
Lasley said that Cabaret is a well-written show that people don’t do very often, perhaps due to its mature content. But he insisted that this show is very relevant to the times because the tragic storyline is set in Berlin during the rise of the Nazi regime. Lasley said the cast had worked hard to find a balance in how they each deal with the oppressive history and still make it fun enough to be entertaining. Lasley said they would be performing the most recent Cabaret, the 1998 revival that also includes songs from the 1972 movie.
“I have an amazing cast of 28 people and team,” Lasley said. “They’re everything I’ve hoped for to get this show off of the ground.” He said that Sammy Leigh Campbell, who plays Helga (a Kit Kat Klub girl), did all of the make-up design and that Eric Gagliardo and Holly Davis had been “working their butts off” designing the costumes. Lasley said this production is unusual for them because they are also putting the band on stage.
Lasley said that the Emcee played by the “fearless” Curtis Myrick, has an open-ended role in how he covers both overarching political and social commentary.
“He threads through the entire show as an evil trickster presence,” Lasley said.
The Emcee could be perceived as a malevolent presence because he shows up in several places he shouldn’t be. For instance, during the song, “It Couldn’t Please Me More” (aka “the pineapple song”) starring Mickey Hyland and Caitlin Rose, the Emcee shows up holding a pineapple and later hides his identity in a trench coat.
Sally Bowles (Ashley Pearson) is a tough, bubbly, over-the-top flippant personality, and “you have to decide if you really like her or not when she deals with pregnancy and abortion decisions,” Lasley remarked. Lasley said that Pearson is a powerhouse singer and dancer in her performances of “Cabaret,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” “Maybe This Time,” “Mein Herr,” and more.
Lasley said the story part of the show goes to the role of the American novelist, Clifford Bradshaw (played by Wilson Mericle), who comes to Germany to find inspiration. Lasley said Bradshaw’s character drives much of the emotional content when he gets tied up with the frivolous Sally Bowles. Thus, the play ends with him leaving Germany during a big, dramatic finale.
Lasley said he had seen this show, most of any show, and it never crossed his mind that he would be directing it someday due to his focus on becoming a professional percussionist. Since 2008, Lasley has taught as an adjunct percussion instructor at A&T State University. He began music directing 10 years ago with Oklahoma! at City Arts. He has spent five years at HPCT (as well as directing four years of their A Christmas Carol musicals) and had served as a board member for three years.
Lasley said with so much theatre in the Triad, it’s easy to miss these smaller companies. He said people tend to think that the HPCT is a part of the High Point Theatre, but they only rent the space from them. With the theatre seating 875 people, they rarely use the full space due to the cost of renting it. With lighting, sound, security, and rights to the show, each production runs about $20,000-$25,000.
“Cabaret is such an important show because of its continued relevance,” Lasley said. “It’s entertaining, and it has so much heart, and the actors are 100% emotionally invested in telling this important story that they find so relevant, and you can see their photos [in costume] and personal comments to my questions on HPCT’s Facebook page. I love learning about the motivation behind the cast. I love directing, it’s a very collaborative process and a lot of hard work, but it is very rewarding.”
Lasley said he is excited to introduce the new “VIP On-Stage Packages” that go on sale Feb. 18. Twelve VIPs (six couples per show) will get to sit on the stage and be interactive for a cost of $90 per couple. This includes being escorted in by an actor with a glass of wine, and a second glass at intermission along with a cheese tray on top of being entered into two contests to receive either a $200 gift card or an Xbox and be photographed with the cast.
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer/editorial/content/copy, creative consultant/branding strategist, communications outreach messenger, poet and emerging singer/songwriter.