Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome! Whether you’re a clown, a Berliner or a “beige person” (that’s clown slang for non-clowns), Majestic Repertory Theatre invites you to leave your troubles outside as it presents two wholly immersive and wholly different shows this August: Cabaret and Clown Bar.
“Somehow I’ve become the social justice theater artist in Las Vegas,” Artistic Director Troy Heard says of Majestic’s recent shows possessing deep resonance, such as Hair, Animal Farm and Marie Antoinette. With its Nazi-era Berlin setting and themes of resistance, Cabaret fits right into the pattern. “On the other hand, Clown Bar is a show that joyfully has no redeeming social value whatsoever,” Heard says. “It’s a fun roller coaster ride.”
Heard chose Cabaret to lead off Majestic’s 2018-19 season after listening to the musical’s track “So What.” Sung by a German character in the 1930s, the lyrics are about not sweating the small stuff. “Unfortunately at the time, the small stuff was the rise of Adolf Hitler,” Heard says. He immediately thought of the “why vote?” attitudes surrounding the 2016 election.
“There’s no getting around an allegory, when it comes to Cabaret,” Heard says. “It’s a show that speaks to each generation.” Heard says that since debuting in 1966, Cabaret has been an allegory for the American Civil Rights Movement, the persecution of gays in Russia, and now, the “bubbling up of fascism enabled by the Trump regime.” Heard’s version stars Charlie Starling as the wayward British ingenue Sally Bowles and Anita Bean as the Emcee.
And then, because the space was already set up like a bar, Heard decided to reprise last summer’s successful run of Clown Bar, which also played LA’s Viper Room. It’s a film noir-style mystery full of mobsters and gumshoes—all of whom happen to be clowns.
“We all really love it,” says Natalie Senecal, who will resume her role as Petunia, the rubber chicken-loving clown hooker with a heart of gold. “It’s just fun to do, to be honest. There’s a lot of shows you always wish you could bring back, so when the stars align and you can do that, why not?” In fact, Senecal loves Clown Bar so much, she plans to get a rubber chicken tattoo.
Kady Heard, who happens to be married to Troy, will perform in both Cabaret and Clown Bar, as a Kit Kat Girl and as Blinky Fatale, respectively. “I finally get to dance while I’m acting in both of them,” she says. “Cabaret does go to some dark places, and I have to tap into some uncomfortable emotional situations, but in both I am playing a jaded female who’s been treated poorly by men, so it’s not that difficult to go back and forth.”
So how to watch? Heard suggests a double feature: “See Cabaret. Pop across to Velveteen Rabbit for a drink. And come back for Clown Bar as a palate cleanser.”
CABARET August 2-26; Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m.; $15-$28. Majestic Repertory Theatre, 702-423-6366.
CLOWN BAR August 4-25; Saturday, 11 p.m.; $25. Majestic Repertory Theatre, 702-423-6366.