Petaluma actor plays ‘bucket list role’ in ‘Cabaret’

From singing great songs to using a German accent, Ginger Beavers is living a dream|

In Kander & Ebb’s “Cabaret,” the most moving love story is not the one between songstress Sally Bowles and expatriate American writer Cliff Bradshaw. It’s the relationship between the lonely Fraulein Schneider and the Jewish grocer Herr Schulz. This being “Cabaret,” set during the rise of the Nazis and the final days of the Weimar Republic, there are not many happy endings to go around, but if anyone deserves to find happiness in each other’s arms, it’s those two.

“Fraulein Schneider is one of the most iconic roles in American musical theater,” says Beavers, a Petaluma actor who portrays Schneider in the upcoming 6th Street Playhouse production, opening Friday, Sept. 16. Herr Schulz is played by veteran Sonoma County actor Dwayne Stincelli. Or Fraulein Schneider, Beavers said, “Her story, and her relationship with Herr Schultz, is really the heart of the musical.”

It is a role Beavers has long wanted to play — though she admits she originally grew up dreaming of playing the lead Sally Bowles, who sings the famous title song. “Cabaret,” she said, is a show she’s been in love with since her father brought the original cast album home in 1966.

“Of course, I sang all the Sally Bowles songs along with the record and thought “Don’t Tell Mama” was the bomb,“ she recalled. ”As I sadly aged out of that role, I began to see what a great role Fraulein Schneider was and what fabulous numbers she has. Now I get to perform a bucket list role and have a lot of fun doing it. And playing opposite Dwayne Stincelli is the cherry on top of the delicious sundae.“

Beavers is best known locally as a musical director, having guided the musicians and singers of countless Sonoma County shows in productions of such classics as “Guys and Dolls,” “La Cage aux Folles” and Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” all of those at 6th Street Playhouse. In recent years, she’s been taking more roles onstage, including appearances in “Noises Off” at 6th Street and “Nunsense: The Second Coming” at the Raven Players.

As a singer and an actor, though, nothing quite beats the opportunity to play Fraulein Schneider.

“Getting to sing two of the best songs in the belt/mezzo range as well as play a character that has so many levels and layers is a dream,” Beavers said. “Add using a German dialect to that and I’m in heaven.”

While working on the show at 6th Street, Beavers has learned first hand that there is a lot more to “Cabaret” than is obvious to a lot of people watching the show from the seats in the audience.

“The intricacies of the relationships are deep and take a lot of analysis and soul searching,” she said. “Fraulein Schneider sings “What Would You Do” after her relationship with Herr Schultz has been deeply affected by the rise of the Nazis. This is not easy to deal with, for her or for the actress, as neither of us has ever been through anything like that.“

She pointed out that while the audience “knows” that the rise of the Nazis is on the horizon and what that means, Fraulein Schneider is only seeing a first glimpse of what that will mean for her personally, and well as for the world around her.

“I feel playing the highest highs, in Act 1, and lowest lows in Act 2 is the most demanding part of this role,” Beavers noted. “She goes from being cynical to ecstatic to wary to devastated over the course of 2 hours. Daunting indeed.”

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