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

April 7, 2010

Liza, Judi Dench, Natasha Richardson and Me

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 2:32 pm

by Sarah Claire Smith, Sally Bowles in Charleston Stage’s Cabaret

These great actresses who have all played Sally Bowles cast long shadows. But I learned early on in my career that one can’t copy another, no matter how amazing their performance. One can look at the performances of these three great Sally’s (you can find clips on the internet) and see all three created totally different takes on this great character. While I’m honored to perform a role played by some of the theatre greats, I know their great Sally’s came from within themselves and that’s what I set out to discover . . . As I began to study the role, the actual script of “Cabaret” , the play “I am a Camera” and “Berlin Stories” I found that there are certain characteristics about Sally Bowles that are set in stone. I went through the play and wrote down all the things that were said about Sally and the things Sally said about herself. These observations were quite enlightening. Sally desires to be fascinating, mysterious, ravishing, and sublimely seductive. She describes herself as a strange and extraordinary person. I quite agree. She paints her fingernails green, talks quite frankly about men and sexuality, and lives life as if she was onstage at all moments. Some of these behaviors come from a need to shock people to remove attention from her reality. When Cliff asks her about herself she clams up. Letting people in to the true Sally is something that almost never happens. She has created a character on top of herself and lives it quite convincingly. But there is more to this shocking gal, much more. Behind those green fingernails is a scared little girl who has dreams outside of her reality. Also within her is the ultimate desire to be on the stage. I can relate to that. There is something magical and “beautiful” about the theatre, or the Cabaret in Sally’s case. But in the end does the life in the Cabaret treat her well? …You will just have to come as see what becomes of Miss Sally Bowles.

Acting is one of my personal favorite things.  To truly get to know a character, inside and out.  To take on another person’s skin, fears, and joy – It’s a gift.  Each actor brings something different and unique to a role just as each person brings their own unique life experience to their everyday life.  I come from a different life experience than Sally, but I think it makes it even more exciting to play her.  My goal is to bring the most honest, specific, and alive Sally I possibly can to that stage every night.

SarahClaire1

Former Charleston Stage Resident Actor Sarah Claire Smith as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Sally2

From left to right: Former Charleston Stage Resident Actor Sarah Claire Smith as Sally Bowles and Charleston Stage Resident Actor Justin Tyler Lewis as Cliff.

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