Come To The Cabaret — Again!

Life is a cabaret, old chum.

And every decade or so, “Cabaret” comes to Westport.

Staples Players — the legendary high school acting troupe — first performed the darkly decadent show in 1984. Directed by Al Pia, it starred David Roth as the MC. It’s a difficult role for anyone, but the senior nailed it.

Pia reprised the show in 1992.

In 2004, Players produced “Cabaret” again. David Roth was once again involved — this time as director.

He’s still at the Staples helm, and once again he’s staging the show. “Cabaret” runs next weekend — July 24 through 26 — as Players’ Summer Theatre Production.

Jack Bowman (emcee) and the Kit Kat Girls. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Jack Bowman as the emcee, and the Kit Kat Girls. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Just as every Broadway and London production and revival has been different, so too have the Staples versions.

But, Roth says, while previous Players incarnations have stuck closely to the original Joel Grey interpretation, the current production combines that version with the one now in its 2nd revival in New York. This one is “much more theatrical,” Roth says. Everything seems to take place inside the Kit Kat Club — even the scenes in Cliff’s rooming house.

And, the director adds, “the master of ceremonies is very much present throughout every scene of the play. In the other versions, the 2 worlds are very separate.” Jack Bowman plays Roth’s old role.

Still, next weekend’s “Cabaret” retains ties to the past. Besides Roth, choreographers Kat and Jess Eggart both danced in Pia’s 1992 production.

Sally Bowles (Claire Smith) and Cliff (Jack Baylis) share a moment in "Cabaret." (Photo/Kerry Long)

Sally Bowles (Claire Smith) and Cliff (Jack Baylis) share a moment in “Cabaret.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

“The show has always meant a lot to me, and I’m excited to share that with the kids,” Roth says.

“Kerry and I also want to share the message with students and audiences about people being sucked into an attractive world that turns out to be far uglier than they ever imagined. That’s very important too.

“The idea of people living in a great, dreamlike world that becomes a nightmare is as valid today as it has ever been. The image of dreaming or sleepwalking runs through the entire play. And it’s very present in our production.”

Emcee (Jack Bowman) and the Kit Kat girls perform "Willkommen." (Photo/Kerry  Long)

Emcee (Jack Bowman) and the Kit Kat girls perform “Willkommen.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

“Cabaret” resonates with Staples principal John Dodig too. As interim principal, he attended the 2004 production. Leaving the auditorium, he recalls thinking, “This can’t possibly be a public high school.”

He was awed by the professionalism of the voices and dancing. And, he says, “I was amazed that a suburban community would support a high school doing a show with such a dark and risqué theme.”

Dodig calls “Cabaret” the moment he first thought of applying for the permanent principal’s position.

Ten years later, Dodig is still principal. Roth still directs Players.

And another fantastic production of “Cabaret” is about to begin.

(“Cabaret” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 24, 25 and 26, and at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 26. Tickets are available at www.StaplesPlayers.com

4 responses to “Come To The Cabaret — Again!

  1. Jt Richardson

    Correction… As VP of Staples Players class of ’74 Al Pia directed Cabaret with Brad Jones as MC somewhere between 72-74. There might have been an even earlier production before our time.

  2. I began studying acting with Al Pia during his first year teaching summer school theatre classes in Westport in the 1960’s. I was going into 8th grade. (Mr. Pia began his teaching career at Staples at the end of that summer.) He introduced us to the Stanislavski System of Acting which is one of the most profoundly important educational systems developed in the 20th Century. It teaches how to understand the human condition and accurately portray it. I studied with him each summer and by my junior year at Staples, I was helping him teach Stanislavski Method in the summer to kids in middle and elementary school – a wonderful early teaching experience for me. (This year I complete earning a Doctorate in Education). Kudos to David Roth’s efforts for this summer school’s musical production!

  3. Bradley Jones

    Alas, I would have loved to have played the MC for Players. I would have been damned good too. However, I must set the record straight: Players did not do a production of Cabaret back in the 70’s, and I was not lucky enough to play that coveted role. David Roth was the original MC for Players in ’84 and I only wish I could have seen him do it. Apparently he was fabulous. The closest I came was wearing pretty great MC drag to Jt’s house one Halloween. I fear we are conflating that evening with a full production. We sure had fun tho! I look forward to Thursday’s opening night!

  4. Wally Woods

    Brad Jones is being modest. In his senior year at Staples he choreographed, directed and had a starring role in the Players musical hit, Dames at Sea. Then he went on to Broadway where he sang and danced in the Pulitzer Prize production, A Chorus Line, for eight years followed by two more years touring the U.S. in that show. (In which he was as fabulous as
    Roth was in Cabaret.)

    While at Staples, Brad also was in the following productions: The Crucible, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Wizard of Oz, and Guys and Dolls. Just more proof of the wonderful creativity that is the essence of the Staples Players.