Wilkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!” – “im cabaret, au cabaret, to cabaret!” Step inside and you’re there! You’re on a fast track to late 1920s early ’30s Berlin. We’ll spend much of the evening enjoying hedonistic debauchery in the infamous Kit Kat Klub where “everything is beautiful” – and the world around it is spinning out of control. We’re in for a wild and exciting ride thanks to the brilliant music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff’s book inspired by Christopher Isherwood’s “Berlin Stories” and John van Druten’s stage adaptation, I Am a Camera.

Kristen Howe and Rachel Kay rehearsing with music director Brent Alan Huffman – at piano.

Coachella Valley Repertory takes us into this colorful and often seedy world where, somehow, love and romance, hope and dreams comingle while on a head-on collision course with the rise of the Third Reich. CVRep Executive Artistic Director Adam Karsten directs ‘his’ Cabaret this January 24 through February 10.

Karsten, who took the reins of CVRep in 2022, said, “Cabaret is a brilliant work. Through the years, it has been examined, reassessed, and reimagined according to the world’s social and political climate. Part of the show’s genius is that it is truly timeless. It has grown in depth and substance.”

Why is Karsten so passionate about Cabaret?  “It’s definitely a ‘think piece.’  It’s hugely entertaining, as its multiple Tony and Academy awards attest. Its songs play in our heads long after we’ve left the theater. As with all significant works of art, we find ourselves engaged, responsive, and, also, compelled to examine our participation and reactions. We’re not trying to create a statement piece – our goal is to present an experience that surrounds our audience in an immersive fashion to evoke a new level of emotion within the piece. So, in addition to having a great time and reveling in some of the most celebrated songs in entertainment history, we present audiences with the question, ‘What would you do?”

Kit Kat Girls – chorus line, director Adam Karsten left rear.

Since opening in 1966, Cabaret in London, on Broadway, National Tours, countless regional productions and revivals, and the motion picture has attracted many established artists to take their star turns in productions, including Joel Grey (whose portrayal as the first Emcee skyrocketed him to stardom), Alan Cumming, Eddie Redmayne, John Stamos, and Neil Patrick Harris as just a few of Gray’s successors; and Judi Dench, Liza Minnelli (in the film only),Natasha Richardson, Molly Ringwald, Jane Leeves, Lea Thompson, Joley Fischer, Brooke Shields, Susan Egan, and Emma Stone as Sally Bowles.

Cecily Dowd rehearsing.

CVRep is making its Cabaret an immersive experience for its audiences. Lobby displays will help to place the show in historical context, using period posters and memorabilia referencing WWI, the controversial Versailles Treaty, the doomed Weimar Republic, and the up-and-coming Nazi Party.

CVRep’s cast includes several artists with Broadway credits:  Kirsten Howe (Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Annie) in the role of the Emcee, Marrick Smith (Fun Home) as Cliff, Leslie Tinnaro (Evita, My Fair Lady) as Fraulein Schneider, and Erin Stoddard (42nd St, Beauty and the Beast) as Fraulein Kost. The cast also features Fred Frabotta (National Tour of Cabaret) as Herr Schultz, Ben Sears (National Tour of CATS) as Ernst, Cecily Dowd (starred in CVRep’s 2022 production of Fun Home) as Sally Bowles. The notorious Kit Kat Girls and Boys are Amber Lux Archer, Alli Bossart, Beverly Durand, Gabriela Garcia, Rachel Kay, Emily Unnasch, Charles Bostick, Erik Scott Romney and J. Pablo Stewart. 

Marrick Smith, Ben Sears, Kristen Howe (holding script), and director Adam Karsten.

Following Cabaret, CVRep will present the hysterically funny Potus: Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive (a political farce direct from Broadway and suitable for both sides of the aisle), and George and Ira Gershwin’s beloved, timeless and wonderful musical, Nice Work If You Can Get It.

Cabaret runs January 24-February 4, 2024. Performances are Wednesdays & Saturdays (January 24, 27, 31 & February 3) at 2 and 7 p.m.; Thursdays & Fridays (January 24, 25, February 1 & 2) at 7 p.m.; Sundays (January 20 & February 4) at 2 p.m. Talkback Thursdays will be held immediately after the Thursday, February 1 performance. Talkbacks offer audience members the opportunity to discuss the plays with the directors and casts.

Leslie Tinnaro kneeling, Cecily Down standing behind her.

Tickets are available online at www.cvrep.org, by calling (760) 296-2966, ext. 115, or at the CVRep box office located at 68510 East Palm Canyon Dr., Cathedral City.