Oscar is teamed with Meg Gillentine as Sally Bowles, who works with the Emcee in the Kit Kat Club in pre-World War II Berlin. Oscar and Gillentine were Mr. Applegate and Lola in Damn Yankees last year at Arena Stage, and director Molly Smith invited them back to star in the John Kander-Fred Ebb-Joe Masteroff musical based on stories of Christopher Isherwood and the play, I Am a Camera.
Smith is underlining the socio-political world of the musical for her revival.
Cabaret runs to Oct. 29 on Arena's Fichandler Stage. Opening night is Sept. 14.
Smith finds parallels between the setting of the show and what's happening in the world today. "Cabaret is especially timely," she said in production notes. "It shows how people in another time and place were asleep while their rights were eroding — until suddenly it was too late. Today in America, our rights are also eroding, and Arena's production of Cabaret will highlight these losses in a dramatic way. I am delighted to work with an incomparable cast and creative team to present this great modern musical that is sure to move audiences."
Arena is using the script and score of the 1987 revival of the 1966 musical. Harold Prince directed both productions, but interpolated cut or film music into the 20th anniversary revival. (Joel Grey was the Emcee in both stagings, and played the character in the film, as well.) At Arena, expect to hear "Money (Makes the World Go Around)" and "Maybe This Time" (both from the film).
Smith and her creative team have envisioned an environmental production of Cabaret, "which will incorporate the entire Fichandler space including cabaret tables and chairs replacing designated box seats."
According to notes, "The designers have taken inspirations from the Dada cultural movement, which was largely influenced by World War I. This is most noticeable in designer Anne Patterson's hypnotic set featuring a spherical multi-level floor. The design allows for versatile scene transitions between the realities of Weimar Germany and the sinfully permissive interior of the Kit Kat Club."
In his sixth musical at Arena, George Fulginiti-Shakar returns to conduct the Club's band, which will be visibly worked into the set on-stage and will also dress the part in period costume designs by Austin K. Sanderson (Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill). David Neumann has created sexy, idiosyncratic choreography to bring the dark musical to life.
The principal cast also includes Walter Charles as Herr Schultz, Dorothy Stanley as Fraulein Schneider, Glenn Seven Allen as Clifford Bradshaw, Sherri L. Edelen as Fraulein Kost and J. Fred Shiffman as Ernst Ludwig.
The ensemble is comprised of Julie Burdick, Billy Bustamante, Hillary Heather Elliott, Deanna Harris, Lynn McNutt, Monique L. Midgette, Kyle Pleasant, Carlos Ponton, Diego Prieto, Jason Strunk and Erica Sweany with swings Jenna Edison and Brett Teresa.
Lighting designer is Joel Moritz; hair and wig design is by Bettie O. Rogers; sound design is by Phillip Peglow; assistant choreographer is Chris Yon, assistant music director is Jose C. Simbulan. Stage manager is Susan R. White, and assistant stage managers are Amber Dickerson and Kate Olden.
For more information, visit www.arenastage.org.