This is the show that Covid killed in 2020,” says Koly McBride, CEO of Paper Wing Theatre & Supper Club. It was a swift unraveling – the show was cast and rehearsed and just two days from opening when shelter-in-place began. At the time, not knowing how long this pandemic thing would last, McBride thought perhaps it would be a month or so before the show took the stage.
Now, nearly two years later, Cabaret will open Friday, Dec. 3. Amazingly, the show is being helmed by the same director, most of the cast is the same and much of the choreography is the same. But of course a lot has changed too – not least Paper Wing’s mid-pandemic move from Hoffman Avenue in New Monterey to a new spot on Cannery Row. McBride says going back into the old space, eight weeks into shelter-in-place, for the move was an eerie experience – “It was literally like Pompeii or something. There were scripts that were open in the actors’ places in the backstage area.”
The play has been restaged for the new space – it will now be performed in the round, says musical director Taylor Safina, who also plays the show’s lead character, Sally Bowles.
Safina says just five of the cast’s 15 roles had to be recast, but that and the updated staging was enough to prompt the show through “almost” another full rehearsal process.
How does it feel to be approaching opening night, knowing everything that has transpired since early 2020?
“It feels pretty good,” McBride says. “It really feels like there is some symmetry, right? Like OK, if we can get to produce this show we are back to some semblance of normalcy.”
For Safina and her fellow cast members there’s a kind of urgency to this impending opening. “I have this stubbornness to open this show because we have worked so hard on it, because it has been such a long process,” Safina says. “I told one of my friends – I’m going to open this show even if I have to put it on in my backyard.”
McBride says that even with all the changes and the new health and safety requirements, she has felt confident that the show would go on – eventually. “We’ve been entertaining each other as humans… since we were paleolithic people. So theater will return,” she says. “Theater is like water.”
CABARET opens at 8pm on Friday, Dec. 3 at Paper Wing Theatre & Supper Club. 711 Cannery Row, Monterey. $35/$69 with dinner. 905-5684, paperwing.com