May 10, 2019

The Montreal Times, by Stuart Nulman, EntertainmentTheater

For this year’s edition of their annual spring production, the Cote St. Luc Dramatic Society (CSLDS) will present an acclaimed Broadway musical with a more somber, adult twist to it, as it takes place in Berlin circa 1931, during a time when Germany and the rest of the world were in the grip of the Great Depression, was facing the steady, violent rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party, but at the same time was enjoying a thriving – yet decadent – entertainment scene.

“Cabaret”, which was originally produced on Broadway during the mid-1960s and became an Oscar-winning film in 1972, will run for 21 performances at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium, 5801 Cavendish Boulevard, from May 29 to June 16.

Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood, “Cabaret” focuses on Sally Bowles, an expatriate American singer who is the star attraction at the Kit Kat Club, which is the focal point of her world during these turbulent times in Berlin.

“Cabaret is one of my favorite shows. I love the club scenes and the musical numbers there. However, I felt compelled to produce the show since 2017 in the wake of what happened in Charlottesville,” said Anisa Cameron, the CSLDS’ longtime director who is helming this production. “I find Cabaret more relevant right now because it answers the question of what I can do as an artist to make much more sense in today’s world. This is the perfect show that illustrates what can happen in the face of the apathy and willful ignorance that affects events which are swirling around us.”

Cote St. Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who also doubles as a producer for the CSLDS, will not perform onstage for the first time in a long time, as was his custom. This time, owing to the serious nature of the historical context of “Cabaret”, has engineered a partnership with the Montreal Holocaust Museum to help create more awareness of the events in Germany that led to the rise of Hitler, and the start of World War II and the Holocaust.

“The Montreal Holocaust Museum will set up an exhibit in the front of the lobby with photos to show what really happened in Germany during the period that Cabaret takes place in,” he said. “We are also having high school and CEGEP students attend performances of the show, in which they will also get the chance to meet with Holocaust survivors following each show. Cote St. Luc has always been a leader when it comes to protecting human rights, because we believe that diversity creates a better world. And education is very important to reach out and show people what lessons history can teach us.”

Ms. Cameron is quite impressed with the overall feel of “Cabaret”, especially the musical numbers that are performed by the eight women, three men and one non-gender binary transgender man who make up the club’s chorus. “The numbers will definitely knock your socks off,” she added. “And to really help create a genuine feel for the Kit Kat Club in Berlin during the early 30s, audience members will have the option of purchasing special tickets that will give them access to actual cabaret-style seating, which will include beverage service and an opportunity to interact with the cast during the show.”

To create a buzz for “Cabaret” before opening night, members of the troupe will be performing a selection of musical numbers from the show at certain senior residences in the area, including Maimonides, as well as special preview mini performances at the Beth Zion Synagogue on May 21 and the Cote St. Luc Men’s Club.

And on May 29, the CSLDS will kick off its run of “Cabaret” with a Gala evening that starts at 6 p.m. at the Cote St. Luc Council Chamber. The opening performance of “Cabaret” will be preceded by a presentation of live musical numbers of certain songs from previous CSLDS productions, as well as a screening of a video featuring 96-year-old Holocaust survivor Margaret Newman, who will be present at the Gala to answer questions following the screening. Tickets for the May 29 Gala are $150, and proceeds will be used towards the cost of bringing high school and CEGEP students to see “Cabaret” during the run of the show. To purchase tickets to this event, go to bit.ly/CSLDSTickets, or call Ryan Nemeroff at 514-485-6806, ext. 2022 or via email at rnemeroff@cotesaintluc.org.

For information about “Cabaret”, or how to buy tickets, go to www.CSLDramaticSociety.org.

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