A master of ceremonies

By Rita Charleston

Once again, according to the emcee, you can forget all your troubles as you enter the cabaret.

This time, Cabaret, the multi-award-winning musical, is being presented as part of the 50th anniversary season of the Roundabout Theatre Company, and is holding forth at the Academy of Music through Sunday, April 9.

Joining the master of ceremonies and the girls at the Kit Kat Klub is young singer Sally Bowles, who performs in the rowdy Berlin nightclub as the 1920s draw to a close, and a very dark and tumultuous time begins.

On stage: Leigh Ann Larkin (center) takes the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret, a multi-award-winning musical at the Academy of Music through Sunday, April 9. PHOTO: JOAN MARCUS

Leigh Ann Larkin takes the role of Sally Bowles and says she brings her own interpretation to the character. She says, “I remember seeing the show with Natasha Richardson years ago and falling in love with it. But I approach Sally from a very original, authentic place. And what’s so exciting about this production is they allow each actress to bring her own original identity to the role.”

With its lush musical score and wonderful production numbers, Cabaret first looks at a time that is carefree and playful. But then, it all turns dark as the Nazis come to power and the people of Berlin must endure the politically changing atmosphere.

“It can be very dark,” Larkin says, “and the challenges of hitting such high highs and such low lows in two and a half hours can be very challenging. But in the end, the writing is so good that it takes you on an amazing journey.”

Larkin, originally from Pittsburgh, has played many other female roles such as Petra in A Little Night Music, Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime, Dainty June in Gypsy and others.

“And each time I get to wear the skin of each of the women I play,” she explains. “I get to tap into each of their psyches because they’ve all been such great roles, and that has been an amazing gift.”

Over the years, Larkin says there hasn’t been a character she couldn’t relate to in some way.

“When it comes to Sally, I can relate to her resilience, her strength, her playfulness, even her vulnerabilities,” she said.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Larkin recalls that friends and family saw her potential even before she did.

“Performing was just something I always did, but I never realized you could go to school for it and do it as a career. That is not until I reached high school. That’s when my teachers and my parents saw something in me and began encouraging me to take it all seriously.”

After her high school graduation, she headed to Point Park College for a year before transferring to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, majoring in musical theater.

Transforming herself into Sally Bowles since January, Larkin says she can’t worry about what she’ll do next because when you’re so immersed in something that’s so demanding, that’s what you have to concentrate on.

In addition to being on the stage, Larkin has done some TV and film work, and insists she loves all the work.

“It’s so nice to have a career where you can spread your wings and do it all.” ••

For times and ticket information, call 215–893–1999 or visit kimmelcenter.org