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What's Up Magazine

Church Hill Theatre: Cabaret

Sep 11, 2012 11:20AM ● By Anonymous

The building was originally constructed to be the Church Hill Community Building, but went on to house the Town Office, a barbershop, and a dentist’s office until 1935, when it debuted Steamboat Round the Bend as Church Hill Theatre—marking the beginning of a 45-year history as a movie house. According to its website, the theatre succumbed to commercial expansion and multi- screen cinemas in the 1970s. But in 1983, the group who came to be known as the Friends of Church Hill Preservation, acquired the building from the Town of Church Hill, and in 1984, they premiered a Cultural Entertainment Series that included films, concerts, and theater. Since 1988, more than 76 plays have taken the stage at the theatre, which features live productions nine months a year and hosts children’s programming in the off season, including a six-week dramatic arts camp, and other educational opportunities.

Having stayed true to its original art deco architecture in association with the state and local preservation, heritage, and tourism organizations, the theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the website, it’s a member of the Queen Anne’s County Historic Sites Consortium and is “dedicated to the historic preservation and enhancement of a main-street architectural treasure.”

Each season, the theatre produces two musicals—something traditional, classic, and family-friendly in June, and one a little edgier and newer for September. For this season, the programming committee decided to head back to the theater’s 1930s roots with both—The Sound of Music earlier this summer and Cabaret this month.

“When I was directing The Sound of Music, I mentioned in my pre-show announcements that it’s interesting the programming committee chose two shows for this season that are set in pre-WWII Germany, but that are two different perspectives,” says Executive Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Maloney. “In the first, you have a family who escapes to Switzerland and eventually America, and then with Cabaret, you’re seeing what happens in the decadence of Berlin, and how people there were adapting.”

Cabaret follows Sally Bowles, an American dancer at the underground Kit Kat Klub, and Cambridge student and writer Brian Roberts, who befriends her, during a time in which the Nazi regime is taking over the town.

“We really get to take a peek inside Berlin on the cuff of WWII that we don't normally get to see or hear about—the dark, dirty underground,” says Brittany Lynn, who is co-directing the show with Marcia Gilliam. “It’s fun, sexy, slightly twisted, and emotional, all wrapped into one.”

Cabaret’s risqué vibe perfectly fits the bill for the Fall musical production. “Last year someone suggested Cabaret, and when the programming committee read through it, they decided it was perfect for September,” says Maloney. In the past, September productions have included The Rocky Horror Show and Once On This Island. “The September show is always a little bit more recently written, and appeals more to adults than family.” It seems everyone at the theatre is looking forward to Cabaret.

“Of course, I've worked on [traditional] shows—the old schools—and have a sincere appreciation for them; but being a young person, I am more drawn to the contemporary and edgy shows,” says Lynn. “This will be unforgettable. “

For more information, visit or call 410-758-1331.