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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

April 5, 2010

CABARET, A musical that changed the face of American Musicals

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 8:35 am

By Amanda Wansa, Charleston Stage Resident Music Director

I am very excited to be working on this show.  I Assistant Music Directed it in the summer of 2007 and appeared in it as (don’t laugh) a kit kat boy, and was thrilled to do the show every night.  Most of the musicals of 1966, the year Cabaret appeared, were pretty lightweight . . . they included It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman! and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, but Kander and Ebb had other things in mind.   They created a musical that not only told a serious story, one based on real events but they also chose a unique structure for this groundbreaking musical mixing realistic scenes with cabaret scenes.  Kander’s score is unique, while it contains one of the great showstoppers of all time “Cabaret” many other songs are really musical scenes, where the show doesn’t stop for a song, the songs are woven into the play itself. At the time it was a bold experiment but one that paid off giving us one of the most unique and most moving musicals ever.  I have the privilege of being able to hire a fantastic LIVE BAND, comprised of a trumpet (Dan Bellack), trombone (Billy McSweeney), bass (John Kennedy), drums (Brian Widlowski), reed (Jack Pettit – playing not one, but TWO saxophones and a clarinet), and pianist (Alex Hennessey).  I will conduct in the pit and play 2nd keyboard, also known as the “synth.”  Audiences may recognize the skill of John on bass and Brian on drums from this year’s Joseph…Dreamcoat.  Our orchestra is comprised of very talented musicians, all skilled in pit music as well as jazz, so I can guarantee some creative flair from time to time that audiences haven’t heard on recordings of the show or in other productions!

The music of Cabaret is exciting because of its range.  We have fast-paced, show-stopping dance numbers like “Money,” “Don’t Tell Mama” and “The Telephone Dance”, sexy jazz numbers like “I Don’t Care Much” and “Willkommen”, and heart-warming ballads like “Married” and “Don’t Go.”  This show presents thought-provoking situations with both humor and serious consideration.  The musical underscoring of the scenes adds to the story, and, as I play live piano for rehearsals, I’m reminded each day how smart Kander and Ebb’s score really is.  I think audiences are going to love the return of a live orchestra and all the pizazz and punch that it will bring to Marybeth Clark’s wonderful direction, Julian Wiles’s innovative design, and all of the actors’ passion.  Come to the Cabaret!!


Kit Kat Klub dancers in Cabaret.



Kit Kat Klub dancers in Cabaret.


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