Erik Schneider can’t believe his luck. He landed his first national tour last year and he’s playing the role he’s always coveted – the bawdy Emcee in Cabaret. The show lands at Altria Theater on Friday, and runs through Sunday.
“This has long been a dream role of mine,” he says. “I first came in contact with Cabaret when I was twelve and I saw the film.”
The show, set at the Kit Kat Klub in pre-World War II Berlin, features the Emcee, Sally Bowles, and a raucous ensemble who entertain the crowd every night.
Schneider was first attracted to the character of Sally when he saw the film. “But the more I took it in, I realized the Emcee was the representative of the downtrodden, people that weren’t as accepted in society that would spin everything they could to make life beautiful.”
He acknowledges it’s tough to wrap your head around all of the action when you first see the show. “It’s difficult to take all of that in,” he says. “That’s the joy of the Emcee’s job. I am there to put everyone at ease and let them know they will be on the edge of their seats.”
The Emcee is the ringleader of the Kit Kat Klub, moving the acts along their journey. “He’s the quintessential trickster, the benevolent trickster that gets people to release their inhibitions, saying there is no judgment here. We are not going to shame you,” Schneider says.
Often actors portray the Emcee as acerbic, but Schneider has a different take on his portrayal. “What I am trying to bring is this little bit of humanity,” he says. “While he is abrasive, there is a human under that façade.”
One of Schneider’s joys is singing the iconic songs – Willkommen and Money – that the Emcee gets to belt out. “It’s such a privilege to get to sing them,” he says. “Almost everyone has heard them.”
A native of Wisconsin, Schneider got hooked on theater when he was in the sixth grade and appeared in a production of A Christmas Carol. “I’ve been drawn to the stage since then,” he says.
He took a year off after majoring in musical theater and dance in college to decide what he really wanted to do with his life. But then fate stepped in. He had accepted a job as an au pair in France, but when he was in New York City getting his visa, the family called to say they were using someone else.
“I was already in New York, so I moved there. I took that as a sign that I needed to pursue my artistry,” he says.
He’s hoping this tour will be a springboard for him. “I want to see what other doors it could open,” he says.
For tickets and showtimes, visit Broadway in Richmond. This show is for mature audiences.