‘Massively entertaining’ ‘Cabaret’ comes to PPAC

‘Massively entertaining’ ‘Cabaret’ comes to PPAC

Cabaret Tour Andrea Goss Kit Kat Girls Gayle Rankin Kaleigh Cronin Kristin Olness Jessica Pariseau Kelly Paredes Stacey Sipowicz

PROVIDENCE – Randy Harrison was just leaving a rehearsal hall in New York City when I caught up to him. “We’re doing our first run-through this afternoon,” he said, a little out of breath.

Harrison was prepping for the national tour launch of “Cabaret” at the Providence Performing Arts Center, starting on Jan. 26. When we spoke, the production team was already in Providence, putting together the show’s technical aspects. When the cast arrives, they’ll be ready for tech rehearsals before opening night. “I’m excited to bring it there,” said Harrison.

He confesses that he loves the show. “I saw the first revival three times.” He’s playing the role of the emcee, a part made famous by Joel Grey, and built upon more recently by Alan Cumming. “It’s a dream role, an incredible role.”

He’s very aware that his character is iconic. “It’s the role and production as Alan invented it,” said Harrison. “I’m not doing an impression. The more I can fill it with myself, the better it will work.”

A native of Nashua, N.H., Harrison traveled often to Boston to see Broadway shows as a child. “When I was really, really young, I saw Sandy Duncan in ‘Peter Pan,’” and he was hooked.

He started performing in community theater productions around Nashua at the age of 6 and “I never stopped.”

His first show was “Oliver!” He played the youngest orphan. “I couldn’t do the choreography.” He’s gotten better since then, he says. He performed throughout high school and earned his Equity card in his sophomore year of college, working in “1776” at the St. Louis Municipal Theater.

He’s been working professionally ever since, mostly in regional theater. He counts Mozart in “Amadeus,” Tommy in The Who’s “Tommy” and Tom in “The Glass Menagerie” among his favorite roles. “I’m sure this (the emcee in “Cabaret”) is going to be one of them.”

“Cabaret” is Harrison’s first tour, and he’s looking forward to seeing how it works out. “We have a couple of longer sit-downs,” he said. “Two weeks in Chicago, a month in San Francisco.” But mostly, the show runs for one week per venue. “So we move every Monday.”

He’s curious how the show will play from one town to the next. “Every show is different, but it will be exciting to see how different cities and different audiences react to it.”

Harrison is very high on the show. “It’s a great piece of American theater, and this is the definitive production of it. It’s really smart and challenging, and socially relevant. It’s brilliantly structured, written and composed, and it’s massively entertaining.”

“Cabaret” runs at the Providence Performing Arts Center from Jan. 26 through 31. Call 401-421-ARTS or visit www.ppacri.org for tickets and complete information.