Set in Nazi Germany on July 13, 1934, the darkly humorous production takes place the day of Adolf Hitler’s national broadcast claiming responsibility for the “Night of the Long Knives”.
A fusion of cabaret and theatre, BERLIN opens with a group of artists learning of a major government announcement. Capitalizing on the moment, the cabaret troupe of five singers decides to throw out their standard musical program in favour of a work of political satire called The Front Page. The new line-up challenges state media, calls out the Nazi classification of gay individuals as “degenerates,” and includes parodic inflection that women are being marginalized — again — under the new regime.
But when the evening post arrives with the explosive news that Hitler ordered the recent “Night of the Long Knives” massacre to stomp out dissent and further solidify his power, the artists must decide to continue with their artistic voices, or save themselves.
The production features original songs from early 20th-century cabarets in Germany, which were banned after the fall of the Republic. A popular form of entertainment, the German kabarett was distinct from the French iteration for its sharp political satire and dark humour. Although kabarett existed in the late 19th century, it wasn’t until after World War I that the genre came into its own, particularly in Berlin.
True to the type of artists found on cabaret stages at the time, BERLIN features a diverse cast of actors, rather than traditional opera singers: Julia Munčs , Meaghan Chenosky , Alen Dominguez , Brent Hirose , and Dan Deorksen . Each performer has a background in music and spoken theatre, and was involved in the creation of their on-stage characters and storylines. The gifted artists will be accompanied on-stage by a four-person band: François Houle , clarinets; Ed Henderson, banjo, ukulele, and guitar; Martin Fisk , percussion; and Roger Parton , keyboard. BERLIN features a libretto by Joanna Garfinkel , lighting and set design by John Webber , and choreography by Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg.