Chloe Marie takes center stage as lead singer in ‘Cabaret’
From January 7 to 23, Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts will present Cabaret, the Broadway musical set in Weimar-era Berlin, based on an autobiographical novel by Christopher Isherwood. To many, the musical is best known for its Oscar-winning 1972 screen adaptation starring Liza Minnelli. Set in 1929-1930 as the Nazis seized power, the musical centers on Sally Bowles, a British singer of Kit Kat Klub, one of the debauchery of the German capital. kabarett scenes, and his relationship with American writer Clifford Bradshaw. Cabaret explores the dark, heady, and tumultuous lives of Berlin natives and expats as Germany slowly succumbs to the nascent Third Reich. Chloe Marie, a singer originally from Baton Rouge who moved to New Orleans in 2020, has been chosen to play Bowles. She spoke with David Johnson, Gap’s digital media editor, on the role.
Tell me about your career as a singer.
I have sung most of my life. Of course, I did choir in high school and all that. I started out in musical theater doing shows with this band at Chapel in the Oaks. They had a musical every year at the church. And so that was a pretty big part of my formative experiences. I took a hiatus from the theater for several years after graduating from high school in 2012. I didn’t do theater for about three years. And then I did a show at New Venture [in Baton rouge] called Dream girls. And then I became a band leader in 2013. I didn’t know if I could do both, be in a band, be a songwriter, be a professional musician and also do theater.
So for a while I rocked back and forth. I went back to my band and didn’t do another musical until 2017 when I did Hair at the Théâtre Bâton Rouge. And then once this one happened, once I had that experience, I was like, “Okay, I have to make this work. I have to be able to do my group and I have to be able to do theater. So, I would say that from 2017, that’s really the time when I was determined to be a professional actor while pursuing music.
What attracted you to the role of Sally Bowles and Cabaret?
I always loved Cabaret. I like the movie. Of course, everyone knows the iconic Liza Minnelli. So I’ve always been a huge fan of the show and I was actually in a 2018 production at the Baton Rouge Theater. And a lot of people don’t realize that if you’ve only seen the movie and not the stage version, they’re different. The stage version is darker and digs a little deeper into some of the musical’s more controversial themes. I was a Kit Cat girl in 2018, but being in the stage version rather than watching the movie gave me a new appreciation for the show. There are so many twists and turns and so many truly heartbreaking moments that are unexpected.
An amazing actress played Sally in that Baton Rouge production, and I knew then that was a role I absolutely wanted to play. I would absolutely love it. To be honest, I didn’t always think it was achievable, just being a black woman and it’s not a role that is typically interpreted as anything other than white. It didn’t always sound realistic, but I found out Rivertown was doing it and had worked with Bryce [Slocumb], the director, before. And so when he reached out to me to try, I was like, “Absolutely, absolutely.”
Do you have a favorite song from the musical?
Honestly, before I started the process, when I was training on my own, I thought it was going to be “Cabaret” because it’s always been my favorite song. It’s such an iconic number, but after you started the rehearsals and really started to dive deep into some of the emotions, it’s now “Maybe this time”. This song hits really deep, especially in a pandemic, because some of the lyrics are so relevant. And I think there are times in this song that everyone felt — that I’m not a loser anymore, like the last time or the time before.
It really speaks deeply as an actor, especially because we’re being told no all the time. You audition for things, you don’t get them, your heart broken, you move on and it happens over and over again. And that’s a feeling you get used to, but there’s always that little sparkle when you walk out of the hearing room: “Maybe this time I’ll win, maybe this will be it.” And it’s just applicable to so many different areas of my life.
What is it about Cabaret who makes it such a lasting musical?
Our director Bryce said that we don’t really have a lot of examples in the arts to explore what happens in people’s lives when movements are gaining ground, what really happens when you think something is political. is so far away from you. Then one day you have to wake up and realize, Oh, it’s everyone around me actually.
In the musical, we see these ideas creep in that are dangerous, that people might not necessarily believe they are so dangerous until it’s too late to back off. This part of the musical really speaks to people. It’s a reminder to keep your eyes open, to make sure you’re on the right side of things, and to make sure you’re not just complacent. Sally constantly says, “What does politics have to do with me?” “Until one day it has everything to do with you and everyone around you. It’s probably something that really appeals to the public. Heavy themes aside, I think the crafty side of it all and Kander and Ebb’s score make Cabaret some of the best musical theater music in history. The music is so timeless. It keeps people coming back because who doesn’t want to hear this beautiful, beautiful score?
Many stages have been dark throughout the pandemic. Was it difficult to come back to a live performance?
I’m going to be completely honest and say I was quite anxious before I got into this show. With the pandemic and the theater shutting down and no one really knowing what was going to happen next, I had an unexpected break at home. The last time I did a show was in 2019. We couldn’t really do musicals or anything like that. And honestly, the voice is a muscle you have to work on, but I sat there for two years. I was fortunate to get a job with Victory Belles at the National World War II Museum. So I was relieved again in the performance aspect. But I was really anxious at first, wondering if I could still do this? And what a way to go back to a full-fledged Sally Bowles musical.
Everyone involved in this show reinvigorated my love for the theater and helped me understand that yes I can still do it – the little two year hiatus was what you needed mentally, but it didn’t. ruined. I was afraid this was the case. I am so grateful to be with everyone involved in Cabaret, to be able to redo the theater and put on such an emblematic show.
Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts is located at 325 Minor Street in Kenner. for more information and to purchase tickets, visit here.
Learn more about Chloe Marie’s work in a children’s puppet television program on Louisiana Public Broadcasting here.