Cabaret 2019: We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat spotlights local issues of growth and affordable housing |

Cabaret 2019: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat spotlights local issues of growth and affordable housing

Michael Martinez, left, and Will Griffin rehearse for Cabaret 2019: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat at the Chief Theater on Wednesday, May 8. Cabaret kicks off Thursday, May 9.

Photo by Sarah Laping-Garland

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s a show that’s definitely an adult — it’s turning 37 this weekend — but it’s still going through growth spurts, mood swings and personality changes. It’s sassy, it’s snarky, and it’s nowhere near predictable.

The 37th annual Cabaret bursts onto the stage of the Chief Theater this weekend, beginning with the first performance Thursday night.

Cabaret has historically been put together by a group of locals who return to their Cabaret family year after year for another round. It began in a compartmentalized, variety-show format, but when Doug Lockwood took over from Kay Wagner as director, the direction of the show turned inward, threading the acts together to be more of a parody of Steamboat Springs, according to 20-year Cabaret veteran Patty Zimmer.

Each spring since, Cabaret spotlights the year’s most contentious local issues in the form of comedy, song, dance, skit, video and however else the Cabaret team decides.

This year’s theme?

“Ongoing community conversations this year have been growth, the inevitability of growth and affordable housing,” said Matt Eidt of Steamboat Creates. “When (Cabaret director) Chris (Wadopian) suggested, ‘We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat,’ everyone started laughing.”

Year 37 had its theme.

The show features a song parody about the last pine grove on Pine Grove Road and a spoof on the David Bowie song “Changes.”

While the show, which brands itself as politically incorrect, delves into issues that, according to the Chief’s website, “if you’re not a local, you might not get…,” it’s not supposed to be divisive in a negative way.

“Although any opinions or views expressed in Cabaret aren’t official stances of Steamboat Creates or the Chief Theater, Cabaret gives its actors and writers an outlet to speak their mind about local political issues in their own fun, lighthearted way,” Eidt said.

If you go

What: Cabaret 2019: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
When: 6 and 8:30 p.m. May 9, 10, 11
Where: Chief Theater, 813 Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: Find pricing and purchase tickets at (Friday, Saturday shows are sold out)

Wadopian serves as Cabaret’s director for the first time this year, though he’s been involved with A Weekend of One-Acts and acted in Cabaret for several years.

“Having acting experience in Cabaret has really helped in the directing side of things,” Wadopian said, “knowing when some topics might need more explanation or patience.”

The classic show has several more firsts. This show features Zimmer as Cabaret’s first female emcee, a new synthesizer in the orchestra pit and a noticeable shift in the cast demographic, with actors and crew getting younger and younger and generally newer to the group.

“It’s one of the biggest shifts,” Wadopian said. “We even have a song by Matt (Eidt) about accepting millennials. I think this is a wonderful sign of where the creative and artistic group within Steamboat is going.”

Dianne Bertini, left, and Lizzie Larock rehearse for Cabaret 2019: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat at the Chief Theater on Wednesday, May 8.
Photo by Sarah Laping-Garland

But even with the trend of younger cast members becoming involved in the show, Cabaret has a huge wealth of experience and history. Cabaret’s live band, for example, consists of guitarist Randy Kelley, who’s been playing with Cabaret for about 15 years, bassist Willie Samuelson, a Cabaret veteran of more than 20 years, and drummer Ron Wheeler, who’s on his third or fourth show.

“It’s really easy to direct for those guys because they’re amazing professional musicians,” said band director Andy Pratt, who’s on his 16th or 17th Cabaret and who will be on keyboard and handle sound effects. The band will accompany performances with music representing a range of genres and eras, from Joni Mitchell to Billy Idol, The 5th Dimension to LMFAO and “The Macarena.”

“Having live music provides for the flexibility to accommodate for a missed entrance, a tempo change, a key that’s slightly off,” Wadopian said.

One song in the band’s repertoire parodies the inescapable inferno of committing to volunteer work — the irony lying in the fact that all of the Cabaret cast and crew are volunteers. Auditions for Cabaret were in early March, but the group holds limited rehearsals.

“It’s seven rehearsals for six shows,” Wadopian said. “Most of the cast and crew have to balance an eight- to 10-hour workday, then come to Cabaret rehearsals every night of the week, which start at 5:30 p.m. and go as late as we need them to — usually four hours or more.”

“The week is so intense and so quick that you bond,” Pratt said.

“I look forward to this all year,” Eidt said. “The comradery of the cast is a great side effect; it feels like a family.”

Money raised from Cabaret goes to Steamboat Creates, formerly Steamboat Springs Arts Council.

“This is probably our (Steamboat Creates) second-biggest fundraiser of the year,” Eidt said. “We couldn’t do these community-enriching activities without this amazing group of volunteers and sponsors.”

Kalynn Smith, left, and Robin David rehearse for Cabaret 2019: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat at the Chief Theater on Wednesday, May 8.
Photo by Sarah Laping-Garland

“The money goes to keeping our doors open, and it will go toward supporting all of the Creative District,” Steamboat Creates event coordinator Sylvie Piquet said.

As of Wednesday, tickets are sold out for Friday’s and Saturday’s shows but available in both general admission and VIP for Thursday’s 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. shows.

Show up ready to laugh and ready for anything.

“Cabaret can change at any moment,” said technical director Kelly Anzalone, who’s been involved with Cabaret for more than 15 years and whose first Cabaret offstage will be spent in the sound booth.

To reach Julia Ben-Asher, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @juliabenasher.

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