Life is a Cabaret – A Performer’s Perspective, by Emma Sue Harris

Performing in shows at the Lake Worth Playhouse is always a blast. Cabaret, my fourth show here, is no exception. From making new friends to reconnecting with old ones, this show has a cast that comes together every night to put on what we can only describe as “wunderbar.” Putting on this show was no easy feat, though. Casting issues in the first few weeks made it especially hard to put on such a big show in such little time. We started rehearsals about a month after the cast list came out, something I’m not usually used to. I’m accustomed to starting rehearsals the week after I’m cast, and having 9-10 weeks to complete the show. ┬áCabaret had 6 weeks. Three weeks lost doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but when almost the entire first act consists of large group dance numbers, it starts to get nerve racking to finish blocking. Luckily, we had the amazing Clayton Phillips to guide us on our way.

A show is nothing without a director, and Clayton knows how to make a show shine. He knows how to pull everything out of you, until you’re so committed to your character, you don’t ever want to leave the stage. He creates an atmosphere not only for the audience, but for the actors as well, immersing us into the world we bring the audience into. Creating a show is so much easier when you have a director who has such a vivid vision of what he wants the show to be. It’s also lucky when we have a choreographer who understands that vision.

Saxz spared no pelvic thrust or body roll, no butt shake or shimmy. He took Clayton’s vision and helped us bring it to life through moves that showed not only the attitude of the characters, but the attitude of the show. That wasn’t easy either. With so many ensemble members from so many different backgrounds, a lot of the choreography had to change throughout. Thankfully, we had a cast who was willing to work when we needed to and willing to help anyone who was having trouble. Even throughout the run of the show, we hold a dance call before the house opens, making sure everyone feels comfortable on the stage. Being comfortable in this show is so important, and I’m so glad the cast has been able to achieve that comfort. When you’re dancing in nearly nothing, lights are shining on you, and you have the pressure to simultaneously look great and look like you haven’t slept in days, it’s pretty difficult to feel comfortable. But through a lot of rehearsals, we all became very comfortable as the Kit Kat Girls, creating the world we so desperately wanted to live in for those two short hours.

We were worried about the response from audience members, too. The revival of Cabaret, the version we perform, is (in the words of Jodie Dixon-Mears) “not your mother’s Cabaret.” There is no Fosse, no jazz hands, no Liza Minnelli. I was far too excited to explore such a sexually exposing role, but I wasn’t too sure the audience would be happy about it. Many people don’t know this darker, more sensual version of the show, and I feared the response would be negative. However, on opening night, we were greeted with enthusiasm and excitement. The laughter and participation of the audience in our world of Berlin was incredible.

Cabaret feeds off the audience, since we want them to feel like they’re in Berlin with us. Every night, we come into the audience and every night I’m amazed by the energy the audience gives me, fueling me and inspiring me to commit even more to the show. Cabaret has been a great experience for all of us, bringing us closer together, and helping us grow as performers.

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