Bold, dark theatre returns

After a decade of collecting dust in the Guild Society office, the script for Cabaret is finally being used and will be presented at the Guild Hall, April 2 to 18.

The rights were purchased in the ’90s, but the Guild Society’s artistic director, Eric Epstein, was unable to find a suitable male lead.

It was considered again, four years ago, but Epstein says he just didn’t want to work on such a dark play during the dark winter months. So, instead, Guys and Dolls was presented.

This year, after being unable to obtain the rights to Chicago, it was decided to mount Cabaret, which has music and lyrics by the same team of (respectively) John Kander and Fred Ebb.

This version of the play is bawdier than the original 1966 play on Broadway and the 1972 film. And it is just as dark.

“It was the rise of Nazism at a time of sexual freedom and lots of political ideas,” says Epstein, the play’s director.

“People partied in a big way; it was a renaissance that was to be stomped down.

“They felt the movement coming, a thuggish movement that was anti-intellectual, anti-homosexual, anti-Semitic.”

Based on The Berlin Stories, by Christopher Isherwood, Cabaret is told through the eyes of writer Cliff Bradshaw, portrayed by Tristin Hopper.

“He has a great, natural quality as he plays the innocent ‘Alice in Wonderland’ who is later corrupted and then moves to extricate himself,” says Epstein of Hopper.

“He is really a nice guy and it comes across.”

Playing the MC in very much the gender-bending spirit of the cabaret is Bronwyn Jones.

“She has that larger-than-lifeness and the sexiness that will work really well,” says Epstein.

“She brings an amazing talent and presence.”

Indeed, Jones has been used to help get Shauna Jones ready to play her role as Sally Bowles, the iconic Bohemian-American singer.

“She came out to audition and she really captured the sense of Sally,” Epstein explains. “But she’s a naturally shy person and we were trying to turn her into a diva.

“So, we told her to watch Bronwyn.”

Epstein says he is pleased with the depth of talent onstage and he is just as happy with those behind the scenes.

Anton Solomon is the lighting director; Rebecca Reynolds is the choreographer; Kaori Torigai is the costume designer; and Dave Haddock is the music director who is pulling together the onstage seven-piece band.

Even the venue is receiving praise as set designer Linda Leon has lots of time to make it just right.

“It is the same kind of room you would use for a cabaret,” says Epstein. “It is more in-your-face.”

Cabaret shows at 8 p.m., Wednesdays to Saturdays until April 18. Tickets are available at Well-Read Books.

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