Harlequin Productions’ Cabaret

by Molly Gilmore

Harlequin Productions’ summer musical, Cabaret, opening June 28, is a biggie in more ways than one. The Tony- and Academy Award-winning musical, set at a seedy Berlin nightclub in the twilight of the jazz age, has a cast of 17 and a nine-piece band that will play on a balcony above the stage.

Left to right: Travis Tingvall, Lola Havens, Karin Terry, Christian Bolduc, Perseus “Percy” Wait, and Amy Shephard

Bigger still, the company is transforming the State Theater into the Kit Kat Klub, showing off just-completed renovations that have expanded and updated the once-crowded backstage space. The audience will enter the club through the stage door on Washington Street and is invited to tour the backstage while enjoying pre-show entertainment including aerial performances.

“We’re going to have fun,” said Aaron Lamb, the company’s artistic director and the show’s director. “We were really looking for an opportunity to showcase our remodel, and this fits perfectly with that. We’ll have two bars, one in our new greenroom and one in the main lobby.” There’ll even be a bouncer at the door.

Karin Terry as Sally Bowles

Of course, the oft-revived 1966 musical, by Joe Masteroff, John Kander and Fred Ebb, is not just a party. It traces the journey of a group of artists and free spirits — and of Germany itself — from the openness of the Weimar era, when self expression and sexual exploration had room to flourish, to the rise of the Nazi Party and the rule of Adolf Hitler.

The action at the Kit Kat centers around the Emcee (Adam Rennie, who played the title role in the theater’s 2022 Hedwig and the Angry Inch), who embodies the spirit of the age; headliner Sally Bowles (Karin Terry, last seen in Falsettos); and Clifford Bradshaw (Christian Bolduc, lately in A Christmas Carol), an American writer who’s the first to realize how radically things are changing.

Also in featured roles are familiar faces Bruce Haasl, Heather Matthews and Teri Lee Thomas and Harlequin newcomer David Gassner, a Seattle-based actor, director and producer. Rounding out the cast are the Kit Kat Players: Araquin Boom, Emma Bradley, David Breyman, Lola Havens, Mariesa Genzale, Jacqueline Tardanico, Travis Tingvall, Karsten Tomlin, Perseus “Percy” Wait and local favorite Amy Shephard.

Cabaret starts as a celebration,” Lamb said. “We start on New Year’s Eve 1930, and it’s a party. Weimar Berlin celebrated differing modes of thought, differing politics, differing religions, differing approaches to sexuality and gender. That was new at the time and pretty far advanced from what came after it. It was a unique period in history that had some similarities to where we are now in society.

“In 1933, it was a completely different world,” he said. “We don’t want to whitewash that. We want to celebrate the contrast, because in the contrast is the story.” More than the well-known 1972 film with Liz Minnelli and Joel Grey, the stage musical digs deep into what the rise of the Third Reich meant in the lives of the German people. “Cabaret, finally, is a warning,” Lamb said. “It’s a warning of what can happen to a people who aren’t paying attention.

Cabaret Lola Havens, Christian Bolduc, Karin Terry, Travis Tingvall, Perseus “Percy” Wait, and Amy Shephard

“But make no mistake, we’re going to have a party,” he added. “So come to the party.” Adding to the spirit of celebration: There’ll be seven VIP tables near the stage, and those sitting at them will be part of the show. “For the audience sitting out in the house, it’s a theater,” Lamb said. “For the audience sitting up front, it’s a club.”

No matter where they’ll be seated, audience members are invited to arrive early, take in the preshow festivities and dress for the occasion. “First off, people should wear whatever makes them feel fabulous,” said costume designer Darren Mills. For those looking to get more specific, he sets the stage. “The club is seedy, and we can assume the clientele reflects that,” he said. “Think decadent speakeasy. However, this shouldn’t imply that any and all 1920s-30s garb isn’t welcome.”

Photos by Shanna Paxton Photography.


7:30 p.m. June 28 and 29 and July 5, 6, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 and 2 p.m. June 30 and July 4, 7, 14, 21, 24 and 28, with pre-show entertainment beginning an hour before showtimes

State Theater, 202 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia

$33-$48 for regular seats; $141 for VIP tables for two


Skip to content