The theatre students of John Burroughs are performing a musical comedy this spring that tackles the circumstances leading up to the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany.
Cabaret, which has been performed on film and on Broadway, is scheduled to be shown on Feb. 24, 25 and 26. The musical features three parallel storylines, director Wayne Salomon said.
On one hand, there is the relationship between the elderly pair of Herr Schultz (played by Ian Fletcher) and Fräulein Schneider (Ginna Doyle), a fruit vendor and hotel manager who fall in love.
Another love story pairs together English night club dancer Sally Bowles (Whitney Weissman) and American author Cliff Bradshaw (Jacob Waterman). Balancing the two tragic love stories and providing commentary and comic relief are the Kit Kat Dancers, a seedy group of cabaret performers led by the Emcee (Alex Prakken).
With two weeks before the curtain drops, the actors are having to play catch-up due to a school dance show Salomon produced that took up most of January.
"I'm lucky I have smart actors for the most part," Salomon said.
Choreographer Millie Garvey and Music Director Joe Dreyer have been working with students to polish the musical numbers. The two have returned to assist Salomon with the school's productions year after year due to the consistently high quality of students' work.
"Wayne Salomon does not do a typical high school production," Garvey said.
"He expects professionalism from students," Dreyer added.
Garvey said the musical fit well with the students' talents.
"It's a well written show," Garvey said. "The musical numbers bring out the plot. It's a very dark show."
Garvey and Dreyer helped make adjustments to Ginna Doyle and Ian Fletcher's blocking for "It Couldn't Please Me More," a flirtatious song about the gifting of a pineapple. In one hour on Monday evening, the actors' footwork went from being very rough to charming.
"I like this musical because it's not very 'textbook,'" Fletcher said. "Nothing ends up as you expect it to."
"It's probably the most historically profound performance that I've done," Doyle said. "I like using accents. I like doing comic relief because it's kind of like my personality."
Alex Prakken, who plays the Emcee, enjoys playing up the mischief in his role.
"He's an interesting, fascinating character," Prakken said. "My main objective of the show is to convey how these cabarets in Berlin rose and fell to the ground."
Alums from John Burroughs' theatre program have gone on to Hollywood fame. Garvey recalled choreographing shows with Ellie Kemper, who now plays Ellie in NBC's The Office, as well as Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper in AMC's Mad Men.
The John Burroughs School players will perform again in the first weekend of May for a production of Twelve Angry Jurors, a mixed-sex version of the classic Twelve Angry Men.
Tickets for Cabaret will cost $12. The show begins at 8pm each night.