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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Clockwise, Taylor Morris, Becca Nelson, Chandler Chastain, Jamie Grabner, Freddy Fuelling, Jessica Butler and Jake Wilhelm star in Three Rivers Music Theatre's “Cabaret.” 

  • Jessica Butler plays the role of Sally Bowles in Three Rivers Music Theatre’s “Cabaret” opening today.  

Friday, February 23, 2018 1:00 am

Step inside 'Cabaret' with Three Rivers Music Theatre

If you go

What: “Cabaret”

When: 8 p.m. today and Saturday and March 1, 2 and 3; 6 p.m. Sunday and March 4

Where: The Philmore on Broadway, 2441 Broadway

Admission: $40 VIP balcony and main floor, $22 seniors, $18 students;

On the Web To see a video of Three Rivers Music Theatre rehearsing for "Cabaret," go to

As Three Rivers Music Theatre opens its latest show this weekend, Jessica Butler is crossing another bucket-list role off her list: nightclub singer Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.”

“I am beyond thrilled and beyond honored to be able to finally portray her,” Butler says.

There are other roles on the IPFW alumna's dream list such as Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” Mama Rose in “Gypsy” and Elphaba or Glinda “Wicked” (“Either one, I don't care!” Butler laughs.). But she says the local theater community has blessed her with the chance to play roles such as Gypsy Rose Lee in “Gypsy” and Roxie Hart in “Chicago.”

“I've been so fortunate to be able to play the vast majority of my bucket-list roles,” she says. “And I think that is not the norm, so I feel very fortunate.”

“Cabaret” takes the audience inside the seedy Kit Kat Klub in 1931 Berlin and focuses on Sally's relationship with American writer Cliff as the Nazi Party grows stronger. Jake Wilhelm plays Cliff and Billy Dawson is the Kit Kat Klub's Emcee. Andy Planck directs.

Butler says part of the show's appeal is that it's “a little racy” and features fun songs that people know.

“On the surface, it has got some of the most iconic musical theater songs,” she says. “And people know them. Even if you're not a musical theater person, you will recognize a melody in at least one or two songs.”

Audiences also probably enjoy watching the characters self-sabotage or self-destruct, Butler says. “Cabaret” shines a light on some of our own flaws.

“It's really poignant right now with what's going on in our political landscape, the polarizing opposites,” she says of the story, which shows the rise of the Third Reich and how many people went along with it not necessarily because they agreed with the Nazis but because it was just easier than standing up and fighting for their own beliefs.

Despite a serious ending, it's a funny musical, Butler says.

“So hopefully we're able to make people laugh. Hopefully we're able to make people cry,” she says. “And feeling that whole range of emotions is entertaining. I think it's why people like theater; I think it's why people like movies.”

– Corey McMaken, The Journal Gazette