Opening January 23, Cabaret takes the stage at Virginia Samford Theatre


Chelsea Reynolds as Sally Bowles
Sally Bowles is kind of big deal, and so is Chelsea Reynolds—just check out her resume. Photo courtesy of Virginia Samford Theatre.

Seedy nightclubs, a cast of mysterious characters and a tumultuous romance. All of these factors find their way to the stage during Virginia Samford Theatre’s production of Cabaret.

Step into 1930s Berlin during the show’s run from January 23 through February 9 by purchasing tickets.

First, a little history about Cabaret at the Virginia Samford Theatre

The cast of 2020 Cabaret at VST
At the beginning of rehearsal, the cast works on character development by taking place in a discussion about what life in Berlin was like during the rise of World War II. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now.

This performance is particularly special, because it’s filled with history on a couple of different levels. Past cast members from the original 1999 performance of Cabaret at the theatre have come back—either to direct or fill their previous roles.

Moreover, past and present collide as a show centering around the beginning of World War II shows at a theatre once closed due to the pressures of that same war. Think about that as you settle into the 92-year-old venue and watch the show.

  • What: Cabaret
  • Where: Virginia Samford Theatre
  • When: Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30PM, Sundays at 2:30PM
  • Tickets
Jada Cato
You’ll be seeing these shiny new posters for Cabaret around Birmingham. Cast member. Jada Cato, not included. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now.

How do so many plots play into one show?

“In here, life is beautiful.” Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now.

Cabaret intertwines several stories under one darker umbrella. At the rise of the Nazi Party in the early ’30s Berlin, the audience follows a love story. American writer Clifford Bradshaw falls into a romantic relationship with cabaret performer Sally Bowles after seeing her perform at the less-than-desirable Kit Kat Klub.

Between the offhanded jokes and nonstop dancing, you truly do believe life is a cabaret—until it’s not. Moments in the show will stop audiences in their tracks and force them to confront the truth that the entire world is at the cusp of another World War.

“There are a lot of very poignant moments in the show that grab the audience by surprise and don’t allow them to be passive spectators. This show makes you think.”

Chelsea Reynolds

Although exciting and sparkly at the beginning, the characters in the show can’t ignore reality forever. Both with themselves and the world around them. Intriguing, right? Don’t forget to purchase tickets to watch how it all unfolds.

Who is Sally Bowles in Cabaret?

Chelsea Reynolds before rehearsal for Cabaret
In addition to sharing her nights with Virginia Samford Theater, Chelsea also teaches musical theatre at Samford University, University of Montevallo, and Snead State Community College. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now.

That’s a hard question to answer. The character of outwardly bubbly and vivacious Sally Bowles doesn’t match with the emptiness she feels within. Chelsea Reynolds, who portrays Sally in this production, had a lot of layers to work through when preparing for the role.

Sally doesn’t sit still for long. Possibly, as an attempt to distract herself from the fact that Nazis are infiltrating the bubble of excitement she’s built around herself.

“In my own life, I’m a very laid back, relaxed person and I like stability and to build community. Sally is the polar opposite; she is constantly jumping from thought to thought to person to place to the next person. She shifts in thoughts and in moods so frequently it will make your head spin.”

Chelsea Reynolds

Chelsea even made it a point to try Sally’s signature drink a—Prairie Oyster. For those unfamiliar, you may want to keep it that way. The drink includes raw egg and Worcestershire Sauce. That’s true dedication if you ask me.

A dance number from Cabaret
Even without the costume, Chelsea Reynolds completely captures the spirit of character Sally Bowles during rehearsal. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now.

There are also big shoes to fill when deciding how to tell the iconic role of Sally’s story. Dame Judi Dench, Natasha Richardson, and Michelle Williams are just a few of the big names to take the stage as Sally in past productions.

Although each actress has told Sally’s story in their own way, the message represented by her character remains the same. At the rise of a movement that would affect millions around her, she continued to dance.

“Sally really represents a large group of people during WWII who refused to say anything, refused to make a stand, refused to inform herself because she could continue to have a party and be the life of the party if she didn’t open her eyes to the world of Berlin in the early 1930s.”   

Chelsea Reynolds

The support from the Virginia Samford Theatre community helps carry Cabaret.

Cabaret at VST
I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of that point. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now.

Chelsea has years of experience under her belt—so much that she’s qualified to teach about the art. She also directed “The Turn of the Screw” on the main stage last season.

However, she’s making her Virginia Samford Theatre acting debut with this role. Although a heavy role like this can be intimidating, Chelsea was received with welcoming arms into the community.

“In the few weeks we’ve been rehearsing, I cannot tell you how supportive and loving this group of people has been. We get a lot of really hard work done, but we also laugh together a lot- I believe you have to find solace in laughter when working on a dark piece like this.”

Chelsea Reynolds

Specifically, she appreciates Dane Peterson, the director of Cabaret, for allowing her to take artistic freedoms with the role. Although he has a clear vision for the show, Dane listens and answers questions, taking everyone’s considerations into account.

“I also want to give a shoutout to my dear friend, Jennifer Spiegelman, the Director of Education of the STARS program at VST. She has both an incredible vision and execution for bringing the next generation of actors and well rounded young people into our theatre community and communities around the country as those kids grow up and move into adulthood.”

Chelsea Reynolds

The list doesn’t end there, however, as Chelsea is appreciative to have a cast that understands the sacrifice it takes to perform. With nearly all the actors working full-time jobs outside the production, it takes a lot of passion to rehearse night after night.

Not to mention, all that dancing can get pretty exhausting.

Stay in the know about Cabaret and future shows and auditions by following Virginia Samford Theatre on Facebook and Instagram.

Don’t miss Cabaret running at the Virginia Samford Theatre January 23 through February 9. Get your tickets now.

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VST icon logo1 Opening January 23, Cabaret takes the stage at Virginia Samford Theatre
Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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