STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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The Kander and Ebb musical “Cabaret” is next up in the Kimmel Center’s Broadway Philadelphia series.
Running April 4-9 at the Academy of Music, the Tony Award production is part of Manhattan-based Roundabout Theater Company’s 50th anniversary season.
“It’s exciting, we’re coming home,” commented swing cast member Kelsey Beckert, a Bishop Shanahan grad originally from West Chester. A clarinet player since she was a fourth-grader at East Bradford Elementary, Beckert’s one of many cast members that play a musical instrument on stage, and are members of the Kit Kat Club Band.
“I’m up on the bandstand the entire show — 25 songs. I play the entire show every night,” she said. Among the standout songs are “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.”
Fellow Chester County native Ryan DeNardo plays saxophone in the role of Hans — “a brooding Kit Kat boy.” He said that having the majority of the cast playing instruments on stage was something borrowed from the 1998 Broadway revival version of “Cabaret.”
“This show is basically a descendent of that. It’s an edgier, rockier version of ‘Cabaret’,” he said. Note that the show contains adult language and content.
The Downingtown West High School alum, and member of the rock band Worthy Fools, also plays the role of comic relief foil Rudy. “He’s like a goofy sailor who’s always running into scenes at inopportune times,” said DeNardo.
On his first nationally-touring musical, DeNardo is also understudy for the lead role of Cliff Bradshaw. He said he was called upon to play Cliff for two performances when the tour stopped in Appleton, Wis.
DeNardo’s wife, Laura Sheehy, is also in the show. “It’s fantastic — the fact that we get to tour together … the Grand Canyon in Arizona … we just had two weeks in St. Louis,” he said.
Set in Weimar Republic Germany as it’s about to be swept up in a wave of fascism, “Cabaret”’s message is to follow your heart, even if seems like the world is losing its way.
Beckert, who competed in the Irish dancing circuit from age 7 until around the time she applied to Montclair State University, said the most important line in the show, said in German, is “live and let live.”
DeNardo said: “Our story is a cautionary tale of the rise of the Nazi Party. Leading up to the (2016) election, you could hear rumblings from the audience at certain lines. There’s something dark and harrowing about the way that some of the conversations that take place in the musical sound like they’re being cut out of conversations with people today.”