OWOSSO — If you happen to arrive 30 minutes early to the Owosso Community Players’ “Cabaret” Friday night, it will appear as though the show has already begun.
You will find yourself transported — in location and time — to the Kit Kat Klub in Berlin, Germany, in the late 1920s with singers and musicians performing tunes from the decade throughout the theater space.
If theatergoers look around, they may notice dancers making their final preparations, or the club owner getting things together in his office. It’s as if people are truly in a German nightclub.
“I really wanted to transport people in a unique way when they walk in the doors of the theater, so as soon as our house doors open and you walk in we want to take you back to 1929 Germany,” Director Garrett Bradley said. “During that time, you know, if you walked into a live music hall or a bar or cabaret club, it wouldn’t be a theater setting, so we really wanted to make it immersive.”
Friday will be the first of six “Cabaret” performances by the Owosso Community Players. Bradley said the decision to incorporate a pre-show came from his desire to have the audience experience not only the show, but the backstage life as well.
In addition, on-stage seating will be offered for the first time at the theater, with 24 seats available for each show.
“The idea of bringing people on stage is that this show really revolves around connecting with an audience,” Bradley said. “I’ve seen some other shows done that way in recent years and it really inspired me to challenge myself because we have to think of our performance space completely in the round, 360 (degrees), and so it’s a good challenge for our actors and an interesting perspective for our audience.”
“Cabaret” follows a young American writer, Cliff Bradshaw, as he arrives in Germany and quickly becomes fond of the Klub’s main attraction, Sally Bowles. The show explores mature themes in a club environment, with Cliff and Sally’s relationship being tested as Germany slowly gives way to the rising Nazi party.
Bradley said the show is unique in that it truly “has it all.”
“I just think this show, it’s so entertaining from a musical and dance perspective, but it also has such a compelling story. Sometimes in musical theater you only get one or the other, you get a very serious drama or you get a musical comedy, and this actually combines both. We wanted to bring something a little bit more complex and diverse to this community,” Bradley said.
Casting for the show took place two months ago. Since then, cast and crew have been rehearsing four nights a week to put the show together.
“I think people that come to this are going to be blown away by the talent,” Bradley said. “We always have talented people here, but this lineup of performers, I watch them night after night and still can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of this. We have this incredible orchestra, this incredible cast, and there’s something about experiencing live theater that you can’t get at the movie theater or get at another social event. It’s a really special opportunity for people to do this weekend.”
Opening night for “Cabaret” is set for 8 p.m. Friday, with the pre-show beginning about 7:30 p.m. Additional shows follow Saturday and Sunday, as well as June 21-23.