Haunting 'Cabaret' delivers raw realism

By Christina Killion Valdez

The raw, provocative realism of "Cabaret" strikes a chord with audiences of all generations. Now it's reaching across the country.

The traveling Broadway production of "Cabaret" comes to Rochester April 21, as the final show in the "Broadway In Rochester" series.

"When we were in Florida we had an older audience that was much more quiet. It hits them. They relate to the time period and the people. College kids laugh and think it's entertaining, then are stunned at the ending," said Allison Spratt, who plays the leading female, Sally Bowles. Spratt spoke from her hotel room in Chattanooga before a performance last week.


The musical follows a young American writer in Berlin just before the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. As he struggles to write, the young man is tempted by life at the decadent Kit Kat Klub, and by the club's star attraction, Sally Bowles.

The show is said to accurately portray the escapist cabaret entertainment in 1932 Berlin.

"There aren't many musicals that deliver the type of history 'Cabaret' does. It's the 1930s when Nazis and politics revolves around everything, even the Kit Kat Klub," Spratt said.

The music has been called haunting and unforgettable, while the story is gritty and realistic.

"There's also a certain amount in the show that remains a living organism, changing night to night," said director Sam Mendes in an interview from 1999. "The emcee has certain moments with the audience which change every night. There are certain lines that are ad-libbed and there is a sense that it is a constantly evolving live performance for the people in the club,"

Spratt agreed, the show revolves around the audience's rapport with the emcee and the energy the audience puts out.

After each production, that can be seen, she said.

"We've heard hundreds of stories about how the play effects the audience. It is based on real life. Not many musicals do that. It's an honor to be part of one that can. It's so monumental," Spratt said.

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