Glitz and blitz: Cast members at dress rehearsals for Cabaret opening at Warwick Academy on November 20. Pictured below are Christia Wright and Matt Wedlich who play Sally Bowles and the Emcee. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Glitz and blitz: Cast members at dress rehearsals for Cabaret opening at Warwick Academy on November 20. Pictured below are Christia Wright and Matt Wedlich who play Sally Bowles and the Emcee. *Photo by Sarah Lagan

FRIDAY, NOV. 09: “What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play.”

These are lyrics to the title song in the iconic musical Cabaret and, as it is about to be staged at Warwick Academy, I can offer no better advice.

The musical tells the story of the exuberant, larger-than-life singer Sally Bowles who performs at a seedy underground cabaret club in Berlin.

Reserved academic Cliff Bradshaw moves into her apartment and the pair form an unlikely bond.

The plot revolves around the real magic of the show — the sexy, seductive reveries of the Kit Kat Klub that command you to “leave your troubles outside”. The bohemian performers, not least the flamboyant ‘Emcee’, provide a glitzy veneer to the dark reality that the Nazis are rising to power.

Warwick Academy student Christia Wright (pictured below) has landed her first ever lead role as, no less than, the big-hearted and boisterous Sally Bowles. One of the hardest challenges for Wright, who has been singing since she was five, will be performing the overwhelming ballads that are plentiful in her character’s repertoire. “I am not used to the pressure that I am starting to feel right about now. I mostly sing at home, at church, and sometimes the school jazz band but this is the big test. Maybe This Time is my favourite song but it’s different from what I have done before — I’m not used to singing ballads, my voice has never been matched with things like that. Getting a different spin on what I am used to singing is my favourite part of being in this show.”

She said she never expected the leading role in the production which being directed by Head of Drama Chris Jones.

“We had a choice of a lead role or smaller role — I said why not dream big, shoot for the stars? I wasn’t expecting Sally — I was surprised when I got her but I am definitely not complaining.”

Student Matt Wedlich (pictured below) is no stranger to the stage having performed in various productions around the island. He is to play the flamboyant yet somewhat brooding Emcee and master of ceremonies who takes centre stage as a connoisseur might revel in a fine wine.

While Matt has sung on stage before, he has never had the solos that this role demands. “I am going to leave nothing to chance, it is not a part you can put in half the effort — it is all or nothing. For me it has been really difficult finding my version of the character — there is the Joel Gray version (in the film) which is fantastic and then there is Alan Cumming on Broadway. Joel is very flamboyant Alan is very dark and those are two interpretations you can take off of the character. To be honest I am going to try to do something different — they are the two extremes of the characterisation of the Emcee.”

The musical Cabaret is based on the book Goodbye To Berlin by Christopher Isherwood. The 1966 Broadway was a hit and out of that was born the iconic 1972 film of the same name starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey.

Among the more well-know songs are The Money Song (‘Money Makes the World Go Around’) and Cabaret (‘Life is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum’). In 2006, the film was ranked five on the American Institute’s list of Best Musicals and Grey won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Christia said she appreciates the fresh perspective that Cabaret offers of life in Nazi Germany.

“It is like a more personal outlook on the Nazi era because you have all these different stories about how it is affecting people from different backgrounds.”

Aside from the historical significance and classic show tunes, the costumes are another stand out element to the show. Imagine a cornucopia of tight shorts, feather boas, sequins and make-up — and that’s just the men! The Emcee’s attire is particulary showy. “It’s a bit avant garde,” grins Matt who is wearing a shiny jacket and bowler hat, off set by a stomping pair of military boots. “When I first heard what I was going to be wearing I was a little bit sceptical but I realised it needs to be like that because his costumes, as well as his actions, need to express what kind of a person he is. In our production he is like a puppet master controlling things in a weird way and there is some debate as to whether he really exists or whether he is the spirit of the club.”

When: November 20, 21, 22, 24
Where: Warwick Academy, hall
Time: 7:30pm start except Nov 20 at 7pm. Tickets to the cocktail evening on November 20 are $50. Cocktail night includes free drinks and hors deuvres.
Tickets are $25 from school reception there after.