When the Broadway Tour of the musical revival of “Cabaret” hits the Kuss Auditorium stage, it will showcase a lead actor in his dream role on his first national tour.
It’s hard to not notice the Emcee character, for which actor Joel Grey won both a Tony Award and Oscar. He’s sort of the ringmaster around the Kit Kat Klub, where the show is set.
Erik Schneider’s version of the Emcee will be all his own audiences can experience when the Tony Award-winning “Cabaret” kicks up its heels at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.
The show is presented by the Clark State Performing Arts Center and contains mature content.
Having just celebrated its 50th anniversary, “Cabaret” tells the story of pre-World War II Berlin, the club and the people including a writer and singer who use it as an escape as the Nazi party begins its rise.
The role of singer Sally Bowles in the film made Liza Minelli a star.
When Schneider was 12, his parents introduced him to the Oscar-winning film version of “Cabaret,” and it was love at first sight. This revival focuses on the characters and gave Schneider the chance to look into the Emcee, who wasn’t defined before.
“The music hooked me, songs like ‘Maybe This Time’ and the opening number ‘Willkommen,’” he said. “I call the role of Emcee delicious. He’s a trickster — not acerbic; lewd, but with a tongue-in-cheek element to him.”
Schneider even got to spend time in Berlin to research the role and came away with how he could make the character his own, comparing him to a mythological character or Loki.
He added the script and music are beautifully written, with classics such as “Cabaret,” “Mein Herr” and “Money.”
The tour just opened on Dec. 28 and the cast and crew are working on honing it to perfection by the time it reaches Springfield.
“The beautiful thing is we can lean on each other. Our ensemble came in as triple threats and now have added instruments, so now we’re quadruple threats,” Schneider said.
It will especially be helpful to have one another to keep each other going through a six-month tour from city to city.
On a personal level, Schneider sees the story as something people can relate to in terms of political overtones.
The second act sees the beauty start to seep out and the characters facing emotional journeys and how do you get back from that emotional trauma.
“It’s a lot like real life now the climate they were in,” said Schneider. “It’s an interesting world for everyone to step into for a night.”