Ottawa
2 min

Life is a Cabaret, old chum

More than a terrific musical, classic delves into politics

KIT KAT CLUBBERS. Christian Smiley and Tammy Martin play Clifford and Sally Bowles in Act Out Theatre's staging of Cabaret. Credit: Rob Thomas

The lives, loves and dangers of Weimar-era Berlin will fill the Ottawa stage this summer.



In August, the city’s gay and lesbian Act Out Theatre company will mount the musical Cabaret – their largest production of the year – at the Great Canadian Theatre Company.



Based on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories and John Van Druten’s I Am a Camera, the play is set in vivacious pre-Nazi Berlin, during a time when artistic and sexual freedom flourished under what was known as the Weimar Republic. The action centres on cabaret performer Sally Bowles and her brief affair with an American writer, Clifford, who takes her in after she is kicked out of the Kit Kat Club where she had performed. Clifford and Sally fall deeply in love but outside forces, including the rise of the Nazi party, threaten to tear them apart.



First staged in 1966, Cabaret – written by John Kander and Fred Ebb – enjoyed a run of nearly 1,200 days when it opened at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York and has enjoyed perennial popularity since. A popular 1972 film version was directed by Bob Fosse and starred Liza Minelli as Sally.



Actors Christian Smiley and Tammy Martin will take on the lead roles of Clifford and Sally. They are graduates of Algonquin College’s theatre program and have been with Act Out for two years. Both acted in the group’s production of Hair, while Smiley also appeared in the Laramie Project.



“It’s handy that we did a show together first, so we got to know each other. As friends there is a stronger level of comfort right away so we are more likely to just dive right into it,” says Smiley.



This performance will be Smiley’s first musical, so that comfort level will likely come in handy.



“When I walk out there for opening night and I look at that big crowd and I know that I am going to have to just belt it out and sing for them, it’s going to be a little scary,” Smiley admits. “But I know that we generally attract a very warm and good audience so I don’t think I’ll be that nervous.”



Both actors are excited to have the opportunity to perform Cabaret and are eager to see their hard work come to fruition. Expectations are high among the cast.



“I’m really excited to do the show, just because the character that I play is pretty complex,” says Martin. “And so I’m just really interested in diving into all of Sally’s emotions and bringing them onto the stage the best that I can.”



Smiley, too, says that he looks forward to dealing with those complexities.



Martin admits that musicals are her first love and the area she will always come back to. She has branched out, doing more stage material in recent years, but her early introduction to theatre growing up in Perth was community musicals – and they still have her heart.



Smiley and Martin are also thrilled to work with Act Out Theatre and are enthusiastic about the important work the group does, both in terms of showcasing gay creators and bringing communities together.



“I like the fact that they put a lot of emphasis on gay and lesbian playwrights because it helps that work get out there just as much as anything in the mainstream,” says Smiley. “But I also enjoy the fact that it can be people from our community along with people from the straight community. That we can just come together and have a good time, can be completely comfortable with everybody and I think it’s really positive for relations between communities.”



CABARET.

Aug 6 & 7 and 11–14.

8pm curtain.

Matineé: Sun, Aug 8. 2pm curtain.

Great Canadian Theatre Company.

910 Gladstone Ave.

Tickets: $20 at Afterstonewall, Capital Xtra, GCTC and One In Ten. Members tickets: $15, available only at Capital Xtra.

Info: www.actouttheatre.com.