Wearing a “German pain-porn-inspired harness,” Adam Norrad is bound to create a sensation as the high-kicking MC in the Lower Ossington Theatre’s (LOT) fresh version of the musical Cabaret.
When Norrad started working with the LOT about three years ago, he saw himself playing “blond-haired, blue-eyed romantic lead roles,” but he was way off. Instead, he found himself playing bad-boy roles. “I tend to be over-sexualized, campy, ridiculous, volatile characters who don’t wear a whole hell of a lot,” he says.
While this pouty-lipped, long-lashed dreamboat has the look of a romantic lead, perhaps there’s something about him that’s a bit too sexy, fun and naughty for roles of that sort. He was the internet-porn-addicted Trekkie Monster in the LOT’s inaugural production of Avenue Q, and he regularly plays Frank-N-Furter in their annual productions of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Norrad’s role in Cabaret is no different. He plays the Master of Ceremonies, who commands the action at the seedy Kit Kat Klub. He may be wearing pants this time around — he wears only a corset in Rocky Horror — but his upper body will be clad in a kinky harness, “with these vertical straps that go under, cut right under the junk, through the legs, snap up in the back, and there are all these vertical straps in the top.”
This kinky gear should complement the dance manoeuvres Norrad will be performing. He has an extensive, but under-employed, background in dance. “This is the first time I will get to show off my dance training. When I come out I’m fucking giving it: I’m giving you high-kicks, I’m doing lifts, I’m jumping off the stage into people’s arms — it’s just in-your-face, unapologetically over-the-top, and I’m sore, so sore, but it’s worth it.”
As fans will recall, the stage production of Cabaret is quite different from the film. “They reworked a lot of it — god bless Liza Minnelli — so that she could star in it,” Norrad says. “In the stage version, Sally Bowles is actually a British character, and her love interest, who was British in the film, is actually American; in the film they flipped that to facilitate Liza’s high-kicks.”
Not only are stage productions generally quite different from the film, but the LOT production’s director, Jeremy Hutton, has worked a few twists of his own into the musical. One of Hutton’s innovations is that the MC is not just the narrator, but the “impetus for everything. He is the driving force behind the action, sort of putting everything in motion.”
One of the ways the MC is made into less of an observer is by occasionally interjecting in the action. Norrad provides an example: “In one of the scenes, Cliff is on the train, and there’s this little throwaway party where the train conductor comes in, and normally it’s played by someone else, but in this case we made it the MC and he comes in and encourages Cliff to stay in Berlin.” This, of course, means that the MC is responsible when things go wrong. “This means that when everything inevitably goes wrong in Act 2, I get this great character moment where I feel this excessive guilt over being the cause,” Norrad says.