With its first full musical play, Carbondale song and dance troupe Cabaret Decadance will once again strut its stuff at the Varsity Center for the Arts Saturday.
Though “Love Gets the Last Laugh” pays homage to many influences from the past, writer Clare McCall said she wrote it after watching the troupe’s last show in September.
“It was really our own people and show that inspired this script,” she said.
Written with the cast from September’s show in mind, McCall said she took advantage of everyone’s strengths.
The two-act play follows two mimes who fall in love but cannot vocalize their feelings for each other. When others get involved, offering bad advice and taking sides, twists and turns ensue.
The troupe, which was founded in 1997, consists of six actors and dancers and a seven-piece band, led by McCall’s husband, John.
John McCall said the troupe’s aesthetic could be described as pre-World War II and combines various musical genres such as jazz, swing, polka, waltz, klezmer and now even soul.
It also incorporates comedic and satirical elements, which are written into the lyrics and acted out in the choreography, he said.
“It’s all in the service of the song. It’s all telling the story,” he said.
Clare McCall said she decided to base the play around mimes because the troupe’s previous performance made more use of miming than before.
It took her two months to write and prepare “Love Gets the Last Laugh,” McCall said. Writing a full play was not difficult, she said, as she’s done them before, but this will be Cabaret Decadance’s first one. She said she has many planned for the future.
She’s working on a play for May called “Vintage” that will be a send-up of the academy and fashion. She said it will be bigger than any of the troupe’s previous shows and will also broaden its musical horizons to include pop music from the ‘60s and ‘80s.
Another inspiration for the troupe to do a larger-scale show was that it could now perform in an authentic theater setting as opposed to the smaller venues it was used to.
“So seeing us playing to an attentive audience in a theater is really like, wow, we can really take it to the next level now because we’ve got the right space,” he said.
Clare McCall said while the troupe has gotten offers to take its show on the road, it would prefer to continue to perform at local venues such as the Varsity. She said it’s part of the emphasis on the local community, which the troupe performs for and consists of.
John McCall said what it would really like is to establish a close relationship with a venue such as the Varsity so it has a permanent space and can be more like a theater company.
Rosie Berkman, who goes by the stage name Ms. Demeanor, said she has a 20-year background in theater, but before joining the troupe in September, she’d never had any similar experience, though she adapted quickly.
“I fell right into it,” she said.
She said she’s connected with the old-fashioned style of the troupe and the satirical writing.
Clare McCall said while she likes to pull the pants down around the ankles of the patriarchy, Cabaret Decadance is still all about entertainment.
“My personal motto is mock softly and carry a big shtick,” she said.