Have you seen the Tony Award-winning 1966 musical “Cabaret,” and would like to visit the Kit Kat Klub from that show? Well, you can! But what type of performances should you expect to see? How can you know if you would even enjoy them in real life? Is there too much “sex” in the shows? Is there only singing? There are so many questions when it comes to these types of art venues, but luckily, we have the answers.
Let’s Have a Good Time
A cabaret could be described as a relaxing, casual theater in a bar. It is often a place where the audience sits around small tables and are allowed to have drinks, chat, and even eat during the performances. This is the bar aspect of a cabaret. You would not do such things during a live theater performance unless you were riddled with disrespect. The theater aspect is more relaxed, but several cabaret performances happen while you are enjoying your drink.
However, you can expect that the show will be entertaining, fun, sometimes fast-paced (think “Moulin Rouge”), other times a bit slower (the “Cabaret” musical.) The set is more intimate since the ensemble can talk to you as well as interact directly with you. You are not a shadowed face in the audience but part of the world that they present to you. Cabaret performances are also often more aimed at adults since they can be sexy but not striptease-like — think some mild nudity or sexy costumes.
There’s Something for Everyone
The cabaret often uses minimal sets as well as costumes. This is done to keep the pace of the show going. The ensemble can change out of their attire and be ready for their next act. The acts can be as quirky and out there as the director can make them. The performances that could go on before your eyes and ears include:
- Solo singers with a band or just one pianist (most likely smooth jazz or blues)
- Aerial performances by skilled performers and a strong sheet of cloth
- Spoken word poetry
- Stand-up comedy
- Fire breathing
- Short plays or scenes
- Drag performances
The list can go on and on. The musical director is the one who prepares the line-up, while the master of ceremonies is the one who introduces the acts and leads the show. Every cabaret can show a different set of performances. Therefore, you never know what to expect.
However, be sure that it will be fun. You could discover new acts that you have never seen before or old ones that you have forgotten or never heard of. Cabaret is not only a casual theater in a bar, but it can also be a mild circus for adults without animals, and sometimes, even without clowns.
Putting on an Act
Imagine this — you are walking down the sidewalk of New York City. The night is fairly chilly, and the stars are hiding behind the clouds of the night. It is early, and you are looking for something to do. You have been in New York for a few months, and your work has just ended. It was a late shift. Then you hear a sound — a cabaret song. The music guides you to a place.
You pay the fee, take a seat close to the front. A woman is singing a song you have never heard in a voice that did not exist until now. You look to your right, and someone orders a drink, so you do the same. The song ends, people clap as do you. Then, an oddly well-dressed man comes out from behind the curtain, asking you if you are having a good time. Well, he is asking everyone, but he locks eyes with you. He reacts to your presence before he asks the question. You politely nod.
The next act is called forth, and a white sheet falls from the ceiling right in front of your face. A lady comes down it but not in the way that you would expect. It is poetry in physical, body motion. Her movements flow, and the sheet seems to merely caress her. She gets down, takes a bow. The same man as before says a joke, and you laugh. The next performer makes you unable to chew your food from laughing so hard. He has a sense of humor that you appreciate but rarely find. This, my dear friend, is a cabaret, where you can discover new acts, performers, and talents.
Big Hair and Glitter
While cabaret dances and songs are common within this chilled venue, another act is also popular there, and that is drag. Drag queens and kings have often found their home in places like cabarets. Here, they can tell jokes, sing songs, dance, and even act without judgment. It is all in good fun and a chance to show off their character in a relaxing environment.
Drag is a performance art where males and females get to express themselves, often in over-the-top get-ups with a lot of make-up, glitter, and big hair for the queen side. It is for people who often feel marginalized and want a character that they can escape into. It is also for people who just want to do it. A cabaret is a great place to introduce yourself to drag performers if you have not yet gotten the chance too. From personal experience, they are very sweet and have awesome performance presences and personalities.
Cabaret is something that you need to experience as words cannot describe it properly. There is so much to see in such a relaxing venue that you would be a fool not to check it out. There’s bound to be something for you there, and if not, at least you’ll have a great story to tell.