Want to go?
WHEN: 8 p.m., September 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 and 3 p.m., September 16 & 23
WHERE: Workshop Players, 44820 Middle Ridge Road, Amherst
COST: $14.00 for adults, $12.00 for seniors and students
RESERVATIONS & INFO: 440-988-5613
Can a large scale musical production be performed in a small, theatre in the round? “Yes,” says Jonathan O’Toole who proposed Cabaret to Workshop Players in Amherst by leading them through re-imagining it on their stage.
O’Toole, now the director, says, “It transitioned well into the intimate space. There is a minimal set, as any attempt to overdo would detract from the main action.”
Granted there were challenges. With it being a small theatre, with 102 seats, and it being “in the round,” meaning the audience surrounds the stage, which breaks one of the cardinal rules of theatre – never have your back to the audience.
O’Toole says, “I took the time to make sure every seat in the house is getting the same show.” He adds, “The cast didn’t know what they were getting into.”
It was believed that the dance numbers and the Kit Kat Club might be scaled down somewhat. “Even with the space it is still a full on dancing show,” says O’Toole who is also the choreographer, “it’s very precise and stylized [rather than using] big, gaudy jazz moves.”
The orchestra also had to be scaled down in size and yet elevated at the same time. An orchestra, usually in a pit, is being put on platforms above so as not to have the music be too overwhelming for the audience.
“Cabaret” has remained current for almost 50 years, with very heavy themes that society still continually debates to this day, such as homosexuality and abortion. Although not simplistic, the basic premise here is if you’re not for it then you’re against it.
“Cabaret” takes place in Berlin amid the beginning of the Third Reich and Nazi Germany. The characters continually go on with their lives and their partying and dismiss the threat of the coming war.
“There is a constant struggle with ideological extremism and we lose touch with the consequences which can be profound,” says O’Toole of the show. He believes it’s the substance of the show, and that every so often the masses need to be reminded of it. “It’s definitely not for children under the age of 12,” he says.
At least two-thirds of the 16 cast members are new to Workshop Players and are full of youth and vigor. “’Cabaret’ is a draw for acting talent with its iconic roles that are challenging to play,” says O’Toole.
Reservations are strongly recommended for this show.