If your vision of “Cabaret” includes a visual of Liza Minelli belting out the eponymous song you won’t be disappointed by the music and dance in the Theatre in the Rough production.
The narrative, however, will be a little different.
This version is the 1998 play by John Van Druten, which relies more on the original material, “Goodbye to Berlin” by Chris Isherwood, said director Katie Jensen. Music is by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Epps.
The Van Druten play takes more from Isherwood’s life in Berlin from 1929 to close to the end of 1933, when the city transitions from a period of robust creativity and openness to one bereft of either as Hilter comes to power. “We watch how it declines,” said Jensen.
“It has history in it, but this is a story about now,” said Jensen. “The music will blow your mind — you’ll feel like you’re right there, inside the club.”
The cast of 17 is accompanied by an eight-person band and instruments that include upright bass, drums, additional percussion, piano, banjo, trombone, trumpet, sax, clarinet and flute.
“The music is incredible and it’s very fun. But at its heart, this is a serious story,” Jensen said.
Cameron Brockett plays Sally Bowles, Minelli’s character in the 1972 movie, and has three solos and a duet in the show. Brockett called herself “one of the leads,” and noted that a group of the cast used to theater together at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé.
It’s a different role for Brockett, who is known for her work with Nude & Rude Revue. She spearheads the burlesque variety troup with Taylor Vidic, a Juneau musician and performer.
Brockett said she learned a new word during rehearsals for “Cabaret,” one that took on resonance for her and the other actors. The word, “sitzprobe,” translates to a seated rehearsal, the first time where the cast or singers get together with the orchestra to practice.
“The band blew our minds,” she said. “The energy, skill and storytelling that comes through the music is heartbreaking.”
“Is it heavy, yes. Is it powerful, yes. Is it relevant right now, yes — and we’re not even getting to the major horrors of the Holocaust,” Brockett said.
Jensen said the play was “political, but I wouldn’t call it depressing. It is beautiful, popular music people will recognize. It’s an incredibly talented group of actors and musicians.”
Jensen serves as co-artistic director of Theatre in the Rough with husband, Aaron Elmore. They co-founded the theater in 1991. For this collaboration, Elmore plays Herr Schultz and Max in the show. He also designed the set and choreographed the fight scenes.
Other principals include: Kelsey Riker, as emcee; Ty Yamaoka as Cliff Bradshaw; Maria Gladziszewski as Fraulein Schneider; Terra Stark as Fraulein Kost; Stacy Katasse as Ernst Ludwig.
Jensen called the play “important.”
“Through the course of the play they go from this openness to their world slowly slowly closing up,” said Jensen. People who were once free are increasingly denigrated.
“This is where the diminishing happens,” said Jensen. “For me, I see that in our country now — a process of subjugation, treating people as subhuman.”
Know & Go
What: Theatre in the Rough presents Kander & Ebb’s “Cabaret”
When: Opening night is Friday, Nov. 17 with performance on Saturday, Nov. 18. Performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 10, with the exception of Thanksgiving week, with performances on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. All evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 10. Free previews at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14 and Thursday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: McPhetres Hall, 325 Gold St.
Admission: For mature audiences. Adult themes and language. For tickets and show times visit theatreintherough.org. Tickets available at theatreintherough.org or via Juneau Arts and Humanities Council https://jahc.na.ticketsearch.com/sales/salesevent/16222. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Cost: $32 for adults, $22 for seniors and students
• Contact Meredith Jordan at email@example.com or (907) 615-3190.