Studio 58’s Cabaret gets a gender twist

A female actor takes on a traditionally male role in the classic play

Actor Paige Fraser as Emcee. Photo by: David Cooper
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Reported by Tierney Grattan

The casting of a woman in a role traditionally played by a man sets Studio 58’s production of Cabaret apart from its numerous incarnations over the past 53 years.

Studio 58 decided to add the twist to their first production of this classic, celebrated play with a long history on Broadway and in London, which has even made the leap onto film.

The character Emcee, one of the main roles, is played by Paige Fraser. In the play, Emcee is the master of ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub in Weimar-era Berlin, during the early 1930s.

Fraser said her role as Emcee gives the show a lot of room for interpretation.

“There are no facts about that character and none in the script that indicate what that character necessarily has to be,” Fraser said.

Bucket list role checked off for Fraser

Fraser said she’s seen Cabaret about four different times and it’s been “a bucket list” show for her to perform.

“It’s fun to be in one that is taking its own spin on it,” she said.

And she’s a star, said Erin Palm, who plays the lead role of Sally Bowles.

“Paige Fraser is a huge reason why the show is special. A female Emcee is rare and really exciting,” Palm said.

Studio 58 alum Josh Epstein, who is making his directorial debut with the show, is basing his iteration of Cabaret on Sam Mendes’s London production of the musical. However, he has kept the set design simple to provide a canvas for the actors.

“It’s going to be really intimate, really in-your-face. It’s just stripped down and vulnerable and youthful,” Epstein said.

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