Lyn Laister, Co-Director and Choreographer of Aspect Inc’s Cabaret speaks about the process.
Cabaret is an iconic Musical, and one that is often performed on our Amateur Circuit. Lyn has been kind enough to share with me her journey from Auditions to Performance.
“Peter Martignoles (Co-Director) and I love the story and songs of Cabaret, said Lyn. “For us it was important to bring out the story of Cabaret and to show the themes of romance, prejudice and power; along with the musical side. Both aspects of the stage show are as important as each other. I have seen both professional and non-professional productions. The movie is well known as a vehicle for Liza Minnelli, but the stage play centres around more than Sally Bowles.”
So what were they looking for in their Leading Players? “We wanted good actors to fill the roles of Sally Bowles and Cliff Bradshaw. Sally, of course must be able to sing and dance as well. I have seen productions where the Sally character can sing, but acting skills were lacking. She has to capture the audience from the outset, so that when we finally hear her song, ‘Cabaret’ in Act 2, she truly captures our hearts. In our auditions, we had four possible Sally’s for call-backs. They had to get through a sing-off and perform the final scene with Cliff. Our Sally is played by Maree Barnett who excelled in both tests.”
“Our Emcee is a powerful character who brings all the razzmatazz expected of Cabaret. John Davidson has been doing his own Cabaret shows for many years and this experience has held him in good stead for the show. He definitely blew us away in his audition.”
“The story is about Cliff and the people he meets and tries to find inspiration from. Our Cliff needed to have a strong stage presence and a good rapport with all the main characters.”
After assembling a top rate cast, what was Lyn looking to do with them? How did Lyn want her production to flow? “I think the most important journey in the story is that experienced by the audience. They are first welcomed by all the characters of the Kit Kat Klub – Emcee, girls, waiters and entertainers. They are then introduced to Cliff; an American novelist, looking for inspiration for his next novel and Ernst; a German who introduces Cliff to the Kit Kat Klub and to Fraulein Schneider’s rooms to rent. He is Cliff’s first friend and English student. The Kit Kat Klub is of course where Cliff meets Sally.”
“The audience then experiences both the romance of Cliff and Sally, and that of Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. It is at the latter’s engagement party that it is revealed that Ernst is a member of the Nazi party. From this point we see the break -up of both romances as the world is enveloped in turmoil and prejudice.”
“This is a tragic story, but cleverly written with comic highlights provided by performances in the Kit Kat Klub. The audience is brought into the world where people are happy and enjoy frivolous entertainment, and then they are plunged into the tragedy of life as the Third Reich comes to power.”
“Coming from a dance background, I would have to say that my personal highlight has been to create choreography to suit the music and the cast in our play. I have been able to do many different styles – Broadway, Comedy, and Tap to name a few. Another highlight is listening to the fabulous harmonies. I also love seeing all the hard work of rehearsals come together in the theatre with those finishing touches – sets, lights, sound, and quick clean set changes.”
A Musical Theatre classic to be enjoyed by everyone, Cabaret runs until July 31.