Cast members glad to be part of musical again
© Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Rachael Joffred and Mark Pickett star in a scene from the Off Broadway Players production of “Cabaret” on stage at the Arts and Culture Centre this Friday and Saturday.
CORNER BROOK Ten years ago while attending university in Pennsylvania Rachael Joffred had the opportunity to understudy for the lead in her favourite musical, “Cabaret.”
Around 18 at the time, Joffred said she wasn’t quite ready to take on the character of Sally Bowles, a fun-loving, flamboyant and somewhat superficial character, at that stage of her life.
“It was a lot of fun to understudy it, though — it was such a great experience,” said Joffred, who now 10 years later is getting a second chance at the role.
Joffred will take to the stage at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre as Sally Bowles this Friday and Saturday in the Off-Broadway Players production of “Cabaret.”
And Joffred is humbled to have been given the opportunity to play the part.
“It’s an amazing musical. The music and the dancing, and even a lot of the scenes are so moving,” she said. “And Sally Bowles is an incredible role for any young actress to take on. Her songs are incredible. It’s just such a joy to get to play her and I’m really, really grateful.”
Joffred said Bowles is an interesting character, being naïve on one hand and superficial on the other. She said Bowles is all about having fun. She said with everything going on in Germany at the time with the tension and anti-semitism bubbling, being at the cabaret is just like being at a happy, magical and make-believe land.
“Sally is very much a personification of that attitude — not wanting to deal with things, and likes life to be fun,” said Joffred.
“She is quite loveable and charismatic. That’s why she gets away with the things she gets away with.”
Joffred said Sally also has some incredibly vulnerable and truthful moments that redeem her. As for the riskiness of the burlesque classic musical, Joffred said the sexuality of “Cabaret” is just the ornamentation of it.
She said the play is about an incredibly important and enormous human experience of the Holocaust starting, and the fun and sexiness builds people up and in that way the message hits harder.
Joffred is not the only member of the cast with past experience when it comes to performing in “Cabaret.”
Mark Pickett performed in the show a couple of times while living in Toronto. The singer and dancer from Marystown, who has been working on cruise ships for the past eight years, fell into the small role of Max for the Off-Broadway production. Pickett said after working on cruise ships for so long he decided to take a break.
“My whole plan was just to take a year off because I wanted to come back home and see my family and kind of not do that for a year, ’cause it gets kind of tiresome after awhile being on cruise ships.”
Shortly after returning home, Pickett started working at Wing ‘n’ It in St. John’s. Recently the franchise owner asked him if he would come out to Corner Brook for a few months to help manage and train staff at the restaurant’s new location. When he agreed, Pickett said he had no idea that he’d end up performing in community theatre.
Wanting to keep up on his dancing, Pickett paid a visit to Dance Studio West where he met Amy Andrews. Andrews is choreographing “Cabaret” and asked Pickett if he wanted to be in the show.
“So I said ‘Definitely, why not, time to start performing again for sure.’ So I’m in the show. And I do know the show very well.”
Pickett’s past experiences with “Cabaret” have included playing the MC in Toronto and he’s also done some sketches on the cruise ships he’s worked on.
The experience of joining the Off-Broadway Players has been exciting for Pickett.
“There’s so much talent in community theatre,” said Pickett. “And I didn’t realize the talent in Corner Brook and it’s so special to be part of this cast because everyone is there to do a great job and it’s going to be a fantastic show.”
He said as a professional it’s nice to go back and see how the people who don’t do it for a living handle the rehearsal process and how they put up the show.
Pickett will be in the province until January and then it’s back Los Angeles where he lived for 13 months before coming home.
“Cabaret” is being directed by Stephen Perchard with musical direction by Darlene Steeves and technical direction by Neil Robbins.