I Am A Camera - By John Van Druten
Sponsored by Schnucks
I Am A Camera looks at life in a tawdry Berlin rooming house of 1930 with a stringently photographic eye. A young English novelist named Chris is living in Fraulein Schneider's flat and is trying to write a journal of his experiences. His goal is to become an impartial "camera" that accurately records his experiences. Yet while Jew-baiters brawl in the streets outside and Hitler's Nazi party is becoming an ever-present threat, Chris is insulated in his room, teaching English to German students like Natalia, the daughter of a rich Jewish merchant.
Enter Fritz, a German bon vivant and would-be gigolo, bringing with him Sally Bowles, a mercurial spirit with green fingernail polish, living for the minute, enjoying every second and existing from gin to gin. Sally and Chris form a friendly alliance against the world, as Fritz and Natalia struggle to overcome the religious barriers to their growing love amid the dangers that surround them. Joining their circle of friends is Clive, a rich American, who tempts Chris and Sally to run away from the chaos and join his rootless wandering around the world. Mrs. Watson-Courtneidge, Sally's very proper English mother, arrives unexpectedly in hopes of bringing Sally back to respectability.
To those familiar with Cabaret, the musical version of I Am A Camera the John Van Druten play will be a delightful surprise. Van Druten based his work on The Berlin Stories, autobiographical accounts of life in Germany by English writer Christopher Isherwood. The original 1952 Broadway production of I Am a Camera starred Julie Harris as Sally Bowles. Ms. Harris reprised that role in the 1955 film version of I Am A Camera.
Playwright Joe Masteroff had the idea of developing the story into a musical and brought it to the attention of director Harold Prince, who contacted the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb. In 1966, Cabaret, born and earned Joel Grey a Tony award for his portrayal as the iconic Emcee.
Then in 1972, Bob Fosse directed the movie version, starring Liza Minnelli as Sally and Joel Grey reprising his Broadway role as the Emcee. The film went back to the Van Druten play and the Isherwood stories for its plot and cut some of the Broadway score while adding other numbers.
Guest director is John Rone, who has staged two of Van Drutens other plays at GCT: Bell, Book and Candle and The Voice of the Turtle. John has also directed our productions of The Glass Menagerie, Another Part of the Forest, On Golden Pond and Ten Little Indians, among many others. As an actor, he recently reprised the title role in The Foreigner. His cast includes Steven Brown (Lucky Stiff) as Chris, Casey Cannon (Merry Wives of Windsor) as Sally, Janie Paris (The Diary of Anne Frank) as Fraulein Schneider, Erin Shelton (Harvey) as Natalia, Tripp Hurst (Romeo and Juliet) as Fritz, Robb Zelonky (The Diary of Anne Frank) as Clive and Louise Levin (Fools) as Mrs. Watson-Courtneidge. Jennifer Jones is stage manager.
I Am A Camera is a play that mixes uproarious comedy with heartbreaking drama. It is a fascinating snapshot of interesting and unusual characters reaching out for one another in a world that is slowly going mad.
Casey Cannon as Sally Bowles and Steven Brown as Christopher Isherwood
I Am A Camera.