‘Cabaret’ road show arrives in the Gritty City

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The Roundabout Theatre Company, a travelling troupe, brings the Tony Award-winning musical “Cabaret” to the Pantages Theater for a one-night showing April 10. Photo courtesy of Broadway Center for the Performing Arts

“Put down the knitting, the book and the broom. It’s time for a holiday. Life is a cabaret, old chum. So come to the cabaret.”

Tacoma’s Pantages Theater will host the one-show only roadshow production of “Cabaret,” the Tony Award-winning juggernaut of musical theater, on April 10. It seems fitting that the Gritty City will show a production that is getting increasingly grittier and darker with each round of revivals.

Life on the surface is grand as champagne on the stage of the infamous Kit Kat Klub, as carefree Germans celebrate the rosy times of the Weimar Republic. But all parties end. So too for the drug-fueled debauchery of the Berlin bar and its performers. The slow boil of Nazism creeps in as lives collapse under the weight of uncertainty that gives rise to fascist hatred.

Expect a fair share of gyrating fishnet stockings, tantalizingly tattered 30s-era lingerie, ghostly goth makeup and heroin-chic stylings. So basically, it’ll be just like any Friday night at Malarkey’s.

The show will be rounding out its midway point of its 160-show run around the nation, with a schedule that includes eight shows a week as it heads to its closing in West Virginia in May. But far from being just another show night after night, the production takes on the true spirit of live theater by changing every time the curtains rise on this Roundabout Theatre Company production.

Not only are there the personal variations and energy levels of songs all the singers bring to their roles, the show is filled with points that just call for ad libs, like at the top of “Don’t Tell Momma,” where the piano is allowed free range to set the tone with a riff.

“There is plenty of room there,” Musical Director Erik Flaten said. “It is such a living, breathing work. It keeps me on my toes.”

Flaten was born in Tacoma, raised in Eastern Washington and studied music at Central Washington University. He plays a bit of a dual role as the show’s conductor as well as the on-stage director of the Kit Kat Klub’s house band. That fact means he finds himself mentally flip- flopping between 1930s Germany and modern times multiple times throughout the night, depending on whether the song is a club “performance” or music only in the head of the singer.

“I have done it 88 times and have never been bored,” he said.

“Cabaret” shows at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10 at the Pantages Theater. Tickets are $55 to $129 and available at BroadwayCenter.org.

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