In Part 5 of a series of interviews with the cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s (KAT) Cabaret, meet Liz Weber.
Most recently I performed at the Arts Barn in the Kentlands in The Drowsy Chaperone, and before that in Quilters. I have been in many community theatre productions over the past 10 years: Rockville Musical Theatre, Damascus Theatre Group, Mclean Theatre Group and Arlington Players. Years ago, I did theatre semi-professionally in the Washington, DC area.
Why did you want to be in KAT’s production of Cabaret?
I love the music, the characters and the history, albeit a dark time. I particularly love the music from that era in Berlin. So many of these songs remind me of the music of Kurt Weill and Three Penny Opera., etc. Kander & Ebb captured the times and mood perfectly in this score. Also, now that I am a “mature actress,” Fraulein Schneider is an age appropriate role for me. I enjoy doing productions with KAT as they always have a great production team and are able to draw lots of great talent.
Who do you play in this production, and how are you and your character alike and different?
I play Fraulein Schneider who owns the tenant house where Cliff, the American writer, rents a room in Berlin. In some ways we are similar: practical, hard worker, can take care of herself, and she is a good judge of character in others. We are different in that I am an optimist and she is more of a pessimist. This in part is due to the time period and her experience.
How did you prepare for your role, and what challenges did you face when preparing for your role?
I did some research on the time period in Germany and specifically Berlin learning more about WW1, the German Revolution, the terrible economic times, the Weimer Republic, and the beginning of the rise of the Nazi regime. I also watched a bit of the movie, and read some of the book, I Am a Camera, on which the musical is based. I studied the styles of the times. The German accent has been a bit of a challenge. Hopefully I can make her sound reasonably authentic.
How did Director Craig Pettinati help you with your challenges and what is the best advice he gave you about playing your role?
Craig allows actors to develop characters and in some cases blocking in scenes that helps make the actor create a “real” character. He wants to make sure we know who our characters are first, what they want, where they are going and where they’ve been.
How would you describe John Kander and Fred Ebb’s score? How would you describe a Kander and Ebb song?
The score is brilliant…you get a real sense of the times in Berlin. The songs are hum-able, and tie the story together beautifully. In some cases the songs are monologues in and of themselves. In the case of Fraulein Schneider’s last song, What Would You Do, this is a monologue and it must be acted. The song perfectly captures what has happened to Fraulein Schneider and why she had to make the decision she made.
Which song that you don’t sing is your favorite and why?
I love Don’t Tell Mama. The lyrics are funny and the tune is snappy.
What do we learn about your character when you are singing your solos or duets?
We learn in, It Couldn’t Please Me More (aka the Pineapple Song) that Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz are beginning to fall for each other. It is very sweet and revealing about their feelings for each other. We learn in Fraulein Schneider’s first song, So What, how she came to her current situation running the tenant house…where she came from. The songs are an integral part of the story. They aren’t just another great song after some dialog.
Why and how is Cabaret so relevant to today‘s audiences?
Unfortunately there is still relevance in this story today, with racial discrimination still prevalent.
This cast is filled with extremely talented singers, actors, dancers. What has impressed you most about your fellow cast members and their performances?
They are all SO TALENTED! Craig and Stuart (music director) did a wonderful job casting the show. The actors are perfect for the characters they are portraying. The singing voices are amazing as well…I cannot wait to get on stage with these talented people
What have you learned most about yourself -the actor- while going through this Cabaret experience?
I love this character and the battle she has going on inside over the decision she must make. I enjoy the range of emotion I get to play from happiness and falling in love to extreme difficulty and sadness. It had been many years since Fraulein Schneider had been in a loving relationship until she met Herr Shultz. She has to make a very difficult choice. This is such a well written show and such wonderfully rich characters.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Cabaret?
I want them to leave humming these fantastic tunes, after having seen our great production. But, I would also like them thinking about how we all need to treat people as we would like to be treated. There is so much more work to do in this country with regard to racism and discrimination. If we can all do our part to accept and celebrate the differences in people, that is a positive step.
Come to KAT’s ‘Cabaret’: Part 1: Meet Sarah Jane Bookter.
Come to KAT’s ‘Cabaret’: Part 2: Meet Chuck Dluhy.
Come to KAT’s ‘Cabaret’: Part 3: Meet Matt Trollinger.
Come to KAT’s ‘Cabaret’: Part 4: Meet Jonathan M. Rizzardi.
Come to KAT’s ‘Cabaret’: Part 5: Meet Liz Weber.
Cabaret plays from October 28-November 19, 2016, at Kensington Arts Theatre (KAT) performing at Kensington Town Hall – 3710 Mitchell Street, in Kensington, MD. For tickets, purchase them at the door, or online.
Learn More about Kander and Ebb’s work here: