Alison Ewing: What it’s like to play Fräulein Kost and Fritzie in “Cabaret”

Alison Ewing plays Fräulein Kost and Fritzie in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “Cabaret,” playing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  The musical takes place in 1929 to 1930 in Berlin, Germany. Ewing described her experiences as an actress and what it was like to take on this role.

Can you tell me a little bit of information about yourself?

“I live just north of San Francisco with my husband and I have a degree in musical theatre. I’ve done mostly musicals in my career but I’ve also done plays. I work regionally all across the country. Last year, I closed “Mamma Mia!” on Broadway in New York and then I went on this tour about three months later. So, I’ve been busy the last few years. My husband is an actor too and we live very crazy travelling lifestyles together. I went to college at Millikin University in Illinois, and then I started auditioning in New York City right after that. And I’ve been taking jobs in acting ever since. “

What made you want to become an actress? What sparked the interest in musical theater?

“I don’t know. It’s not like I specifically made a choice. I auditioned to be in a community theater production of “The Music Man” when I was 11 and I got in and had a couple lines. I really, really loved it. The man who directed it had a children’s theater and all my friends were going on Saturday mornings to be in his classes and I just remember being extremely jealous. I wanted to take these acting classes but I was too afraid to ask my parents. They somehow just knew that that’s what I wanted to do and that’s what I would be good at and they put me in these acting classes. I’ve just never looked back.”

Let’s talk a little bit about “Cabaret” specifically. How did you come about that or how did you hear about it?

“Well, this is actually the fourth production of “Cabaret” that I’ve done with the same director and the same version of “Cabaret.” The first time I did it I played Lulu, one of the youngest Kit Kat Girls, and I did the tour in 1998, and then I went into the Broadway production in 2000. Then, later on, I think in 2005, I did the production put up in Paris, in French and I played Lulu again. So I know the director and the production team very well. When I learned that they were going to do the national tour now that I’m 17 years older, I knew that that I wanted to play Fräulein Kost. I emailed the director and said “I would really love to audition for the role, can you please give me a chance for that?” And he said “yep, absolutely.” I immediately found a friend with an accordion, and I started practicing so that when I went in for the audition, I was as prepared as I could possibly be. That’s how I got this role, I wanted it badly.”

Was there something in particular that drew you to this character?

“Yes. I mean, she’s not a terribly happy person. She’s a really intricate character. She’s needy and seedy and funny and tired and desperate. She’s got all of these deep things about her that I think are wonderful to play. She sings this wonderful song, and she aligns herself with a Nazi in order to survive. So, you know she’s not just some tired old Kit Kat Girl. She has a lot of life and I guess the role doesn’t have a lot of lines but it’s definitely what you make it. I thought that it was a role that I could bring something deeper to.”

What’s been the hardest part about performing in this role? And what’s been your favorite part?

“I guess the hardest part, on a very basic level, is that our show has a lot of cigarette smoke in it. And just travelling and singing eight times a week and keeping your energy up amongst interviews and rehearsals. This particular show is hard because there’s so many people doing so many things, so it does require a lot of rehearsal. It’s just a lot to try and maintain your health and well-being. On the same note, the greatest thing has been travelling and going to different places and meeting new people and playing different theaters. Playing really beautiful, old theaters across the country is always wonderful and an honor.”

Do you have any strategies to keep that energy up?

“Well, I just try to eat well, and I seek out a gym as soon as we get to the city that we’re playing. I work out and stretch every day, and I sweat because that seems to warm me up. I like to take naps in the afternoon and, personally, I like to have a lot of alone time during the day so that I can prepare for what we have to do at night.”

Is there anything that you want to say that I might have forgotten to ask?

“I would say that “Cabaret” is really a wonderful production and a must see because it is so politically current right now. In its essence, it’s a love story, but it has everything. It’s exciting to watch, the singing and music and dancing are electric. It’ll make you think about the past and where we’re going from here. It has all the elements of a wonderful production. So, go see it.”

Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “Cabaret” is showing at the Au-Rene Theater in the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster with most starting at $61. For a review of the show, visit nsucurrent.nova.edu/roundabout-theatres-cabaret-will-take-your-breath-away/.

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