Divinely decadent musical, “Cabaret,” opens at Ferndale Repertory Theatre

Take note local musical theater lovers, Ferndale Rep's second, exciting, rotating-in-repertory summer musical, the iconic "Cabaret," is set to slink seductively into the spotlight this weekend.

One of those beyond-famous titles that even non-musical theater fans immediately recognize, "Cabaret's" plot and songs have transcended themselves and become part of the world's artistic culture.

It evolved from several sources: Christopher Isherwood's short 1939 novel "Goodbye to Berlin"; John Van Duzen's 1951 play, "I Am A Camera" and the 1966 Broadway smash hit musical set to John Kander and Freb Ebb's brilliant score.

Of course, what cemented everything about the unforgettable story, characters and music was the vivid, multiple Oscar-winning 1972 film version with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey that stunned movie audiences with its daring dark and sexual nature.

The show's setting is 1931, the Wiemar era in Berlin right before the continent erupts into war. Fascinatingly dark and sexually charged, "Cabaret" focuses on the seedy Kit Kat Klub, "a haven of decadence" where its "extraordinarily and morally ambiguous inhabitants" brazenly hide from the outside world's oncoming storm.

Shared with the audience by the Klub's mesmerizing emcee, the plot revolves around entertainer Sally Bowles, whose motto is "It's divine decadence, darling," and everyone else who surrounds her garish life, both onstage and off. Memorable songs and lyrics include "Don't Tell Mama;" "Two Ladies;" "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" and the famous title song itself.

Ginger Gene directs the production; leading/supporting actors are Elena Tessler, Kelsey MacIlvaine, Charlie Heinberg, Rae Robison, JM Wilkerson, Caitlin McMurtry and Jeremy Webb. The ensemble features Julia Giardino, Jessi Shieman, Zoe Berman, Dante Gelormino, Quail Peltier, Jeff Kieser and Kate Haley.

Musical director Dianne Zuleger's live orchestra includes Justin Ross, Tamaras Abrams, Amber Grimes, Gigina Piazza, Michael Lewis, Stephanie Douglas, Monica Deckit and John Petricca. Liz Uhazy did the lighting/set design; Erica Fromdahl, the costume design.

Ferndale Repertory Theatre's "Cabaret" opens on Friday at 8 p.m. After the gala opening night, performances follow with shows at 8 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

"Cabaret" will then start sharing the Rep's stage every other weekend with "Woody Guthrie's American Song," returning to perform the rest of the run on July 27, 28 and 29. Friday and Saturday curtains are at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

"Cabaret's" rotation resumes at 8 p.m. on Aug. 10 and 11; 2 p.m. on Aug. 12. The show's final performances are 8 p.m. Aug. 24 and 25; 2 p.m. Aug. 26.

Suggested for mature audiences, the show's tickets are $16 adults; $14 students/seniors; advance tickets are available by calling 1 (800) 838-3006 or visiting www.ferndalerep.org

If you go

What: "Cabaret"

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Ferndale Repertory Theatre

Admission: $16 adults; $14 students/seniors

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