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NORTH TONAWANDA – For the first time in its 43-year history of summer musicals, the Ghostlight Theatre will present “Cabaret,” beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday in the theater at 170 Schneck St.

The story takes place in 1932 in Berlin in a sleazy nightclub called the Kit Kat Club. It tells the burgeoning love story of a 19-year-old English cabaret performer named Sally Bowles and an American writer, Cliff Bradshaw, as the Nazis begin their rise to power prior to World War II. It also tells the doomed love story of German boarding house owner Fraulein Schneider and an elderly Jewish man, Herr Schultz.

Despite the dark tone of the plot, the music of John Kander and Fred Ebb will have the audience humming as they leave the theater. The musical is known for songs such as, “Cabaret,” “Willkommen,” “Maybe This Time,” “Money Makes the World Go Round,” “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”

Don Swartz, artistic director of Ghostlight Theatre, said the group has been around since 1972, and each year it puts on five shows, including a big summer musical. But he called “Cabaret” a departure for the group.

“We always do a spring comedy, a winter classic, a Christmas show and a fall thriller,” Swartz said.

“We’ve been so Rodgers and Hammerstein,” he said of the type of musicals usually presented each summer.

“(This show) works perfectly for our stage. We have a 125-year-old building, and we have a two-story stage,” Swartz said. “It works perfect for the Kit Kat Club because we can have people sitting on the second story. It’s great for staging.”

He said he and his wife, Debby Swartz, saw the show at the Studio Arena 23 years ago, and it really stuck with them.

“The stage version is very different from the movie,” he said. “It’s a little bit darker. It’s a great history piece. It’s an eye-opener. You get to see the lost people who come here to the Kit Kat Club.”

Debby Swartz, who directs the show, has been directing summer musicals at the Ghostlight for the past 10 years.

“It’s something new and different for us,” she said. “I’ve got an awesome cast.”

The lead role of Master of Ceremonies is Beau Bradshaw, a graduate of Niagara Wheatfield High School who is going on to study musical theater when he enters college in the fall.

First presented on Broadway in 1966, “Cabaret” has seen a big surge in productions since it was recently revived on Broadway this year. Don Swartz said they were lucky to “slip through” and get the rights to present the show locally a year and a half ago

Showtimes are at 7 p.m. this Thursday and next Thursday, Aug. 17; and 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and Aug. 15 and 16; with matinees at 2 p.m. next Sunday and Aug. 17. Tickets are $17 for general admission, and $15 for veterans, students and seniors.

Tickets may be reserved online at www.starrynighttheatre.com or by calling 743-1614. Tickets also may be purchased at the door.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com