Challenging, Contemporary

Challenging, Contemporary

What good is sitting alone in your room?

Come hear the music play

Life is a cabaret, old chum

Come to the cabaret

It’s the early 1930s. Berlin is experiencing a confluence of cultures as the Nazi party continues its rise to power in a city known for its freedoms. The performers at the Kit Kat Klub are trying to maintain their grip on their artistic lifestyle as the world around them is at the precipice of political turmoil.

“The production hasn’t changed, but it is fascinating to see how relevant, unfortunately, [the story] is still today,” says “Cabaret” star Bailey McCall Thomas of the latest revival. Thomas began her first national tour at the end of last year in the emotional role of Sally Bowles, a performer at the Kit Kat Klub, whose turbulent relationship with American writer Cliff is a major driver of the show. “It’s an honor to be taking this story out and telling it because I think [it] helps you realize we’re all a team and we’re all working together, and you have to help out your fellow man.”

The current production of the Tony Award-winning show brings together the same creative team that gave life to the 1998 and 2014 Broadway revivals. The timelessness of the material and its staying power despite very few changes in production speaks to the truth of the story, Thomas asserts.

“Like I said, it is sad that it still is so relevant [but] there’s a line Cliff says in the play, ‘If you’re not against all this, you’re for it. Or you might as well be.’ And that just really strikes a chord with me,” she says. “You know, it’s very easy to sit back and say, ‘Well, it’s not happening to me,’ or ‘it’s not happening to my friends.’ But that’s only helping the problem; that’s only adding to the problem.”

With blunt themes and plot devices involving the prejudices of the era, issues around sexuality, questions about a woman’s ownership of her body, and the consequences of willful ignorance, it’s a difficult show for anyone to get through — including the actors. Thomas reveals she is still learning how to “leave it all on the stage” and keep Bailey the actor and Sally the character separate when she goes home at the end of the day.

“In rehearsal I noticed the first few days coming home, I wasn’t doing anything to really release the work, and there were moments when I would just break down — I would start crying randomly or some little thing would bring all this stuff up. Because you have to go to these dark places and bring up some things that aren’t pretty and aren’t fun,” Thomas shares. “I had a friend who would say, ‘You make your art, you do your show, and then you burn it. It’s done. It’s done for that day.’ And at the end of May, we’ll burn this production, and it won’t be anymore. But I think that’s a good thought to have with every show — you have to just bare it all on stage and then leave it.”

In the short time she’s had with Sally, Thomas says there’s already so much more she’s taken away from the part than emotion, though. Exploring the two sides of Sally — when she’s on stage, loving the limelight, and when she’s off stage, sometimes showing more vulnerability — excites and motivates Thomas moving forward in her own work as an artist.

“She’s not afraid to just speak what’s in her mind,” Thomas enthuses. “She hides a lot of things that are deep inside of her, which I think we all do as humans and don’t necessarily own up to. And she sort of eventually owns up to that, which I think is interesting. Even in her hiding, she is somehow still very vulnerable and exposed. She’s not afraid to be who she is even though it’s hurt her a number of times, and other people mock her or shame her, she still is true to who she is, no matter who that person is. And I think that’s really inspiring.”

Start by admitting from cradle to tomb

Isn’t that long a stay

Life is a cabaret, old chum

It’s only a cabaret, old chum

And I love a cabaret




WHEN — 8 p.m. Jan. 19; 2 & 8 p.m. Jan. 20; 2 & 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $36-$80

INFO — 443-5600,

Categories: Entertainment, Theater