"I've wanted to direct Cabaret for a long while," says Hector Correa, former artistic director of Rohnert Park's Pacific Alliance Stage Company.
His current production of the beloved musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb is moving this week from an intimate theater space in San Francisco, where it opened in January, to the even cozier Larkspur Cafe Theater, where it runs through the middle of April. A joint collaboration between Independent Cabaret Productions and Shakespeare at Stinson, the production marks the first time Correa has had the opportunity to helm the musical, which he's long considered one of his favorites.
"For some reason," he says, "whenever I considered doing it, everyone else in the area was doing it, so I kept saying, 'Let's wait. Let's visit this some other time.' Well, that time is now."
The uniquely structured musical follows a group of singers, writers and nightclub performers who congregate at a decadent cabaret in pre-war Berlin. Moving between outrageous musical performances in the Kit Kat Klub to sharply written scenes between singer Sally Bowles and wide-eyed newcomer Cliff, the story plays out amid the rise of Nazism in Germany.
"It's a very tight staging of this play," says Correa, describing his vision of the show. "So many versions are so long and rambling and unclear. I've found ways to keep it flowing from scene to scene without interruption, allowing the momentum of the show to build. It's very effective."
Asked what that's new or fresh can be brought to such a well-known show, Correa laughs.
"You can only bring yourself," he says. "Shows like Cabaret have been done so many times, there probably isn't anything new you could do. So as the director, all you can bring is your own unique understanding of the story. It's like a singer singing a song, like Sally Bowles singing 'Cabaret.' The tune is the same, but you change the tempo a little here and there, and you bring your own emotion to the song."
Correa adds that he's hoping to bring some perspective and clarity to the rocky love affair between Sally and Cliff.
"I choose to interpret it as Cliff being gay," Correa explains. "And being gay in 1930 Berlin was not necessarily comfortable. Sally and Cliff are both giving each other a fantasy—but it can't last. Eventually, we all have to live our truth."
'Cabaret' runs Friday–Sunday, March 2–April 15, at the Larkspur Cafe Theatre. 500 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur. Friday and Saturday at 8pm; Sundays at 7pm. No performances March 3 or April 8. $25–$45. 415.381.1638.