Lifestyle

Ovation! Music Theatre Bainbridge cast camps it up in Cabaret

Sally Bowles (played by Katie Donais McKinstry) and the Kit Kat dancers perform in Cabaret, Ovation! Musical Theater
Sally Bowles (played by Katie Donais McKinstry) and the Kit Kat dancers perform in Cabaret, Ovation! Musical Theater's summer production which opens July 16 for a three-week run.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Review

Cabaret, Ovation! Musical Theatre’s summer production, opens with Master of Ceremonies (played by Carter Kight) seducing the audience.

“Life is disappointing?…In here, life is beautiful,” he promises in a surrealistic mix between a coo and a crow.

The story, set in 1930s Berlin, pivots and turns on crossing boundaries – lots of them – and how people respond to the chaos of change.

With the economy crumbling and the Nazis rising to power, the Kit Kat Klub provides refuge, and Cabaret is a bit of a peep show of a peep show. We get glimpses of “ordinary people in extraordinary situations,” director Ron Milton said.

The seedy nightclub’s Master of Ceremonies is far from ordinary, but he’s clever and responds to the darkness closing in around him by “hiding in plain sight.”

Sally Bowles, (played robustly by Katie Donais McKinstry) a brash and brazen English woman, simply grabs the bull by the, um, horns, surviving life on sheer chutzpah.

“I love this show!” McKinstry said with Bowlesesque enthusiasm. “Sally Bowles is such a beacon, an exhuberant energy surrounded by this dreary feeling.”

McKinstry, with a minor in dance at UW, holds her own in the spotlight, belting out numbers with a toss of the head.

Cliff Bradshaw, played by Tavis Hamilton, enters wearing a milktoast veneer, which little-by-little gets chipped away to reveal surprising depth. A would-be novelist, he’s searching for a story or maybe a new life – and Sally Bowles gives him just that.

Boarding house owner Fräulein Schneider (played by Marijane Milton) and fruit vendor Herr Schultz, (Todd Baylor) play up the light and dark accents to good effect.

The nine-piece orchestra brings an immediacy to the show and helps carry the mood shifts in the show’s 19 scene changes. As voyeurs, the audience is privy to intimate conversations in bedrooms and hallways, followed by in-your-face numbers from the vampy-campy-trampy Kit Kat Girls. We catch our breath as the sets roll in and out on casters, and the change in tempo offers a few moments of counter-point to the dizzying action.

Milton said getting the sound right was one of the biggest challenges of the show.

Another challenge was launching the full-scale musical while Ovation! house music director Corinna Lapid-Munter was in Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre’s “Candide.”

“We missed her for 25 rehearsals,” Milton said. “Then we retightened the music.”

Indeed. The musical, written by Joe Masteroff, with music by John Kander and Fred Ebb, features 20 numbers and plenty of dancing. Babette Gazarian-Cherne worked with the 18-member cast for four months on choreography.

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Come to the cabaret

Ovation! Musical Theatre presents Cabaret with a live orchestra, July 16-Aug. 2 at the Bainbridge High School Theatre, 9330 High School Rd.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, $15-$22, are available at Winslow Drug, online at www.ovationmtb.com or at 842-0472.

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