You never know what you’ll find On the Road to Salmo

The cabaret cast gets ready for Saturday with some familiar faces. - Andrea Klassen photo
The cabaret cast gets ready for Saturday with some familiar faces.
— image credit: Andrea Klassen photo

A battle for the hearts and minds of mankind is set to take place at the Capitol Theatre this Saturday — but some of the players involved in the struggle may not show up in quite the usual way.

On the Road to Salmo, the Oxygen Art Centre Cabaret’s spring offering, features dark rituals, Broadway hits and gospel stompers, and one rather problematic ditch along the highway to the nearby town.

Written in part by Nicola Harwood (whose character Ilsa spends a good portion of the show grappling with the above-mentioned ditch), the show’s main story is a three-way battle for humanity. Former Communist Party member Ilsa has a plot to rule the world, the devil is planning a blues-infused comeback, and Jesus — well, that’s where the Broadway tunes come in.

“It’s about heaven and hell, and everything in between,” says Harwood.

“Basically, anything can happen on the road from here to Salmo. We don’t know what goes on out there in the dark, in the bush, at the crossroads at midnight.”

Though the show runs Easter weekend, Harwood says the religious overtones of the work came out naturally in the writing process, as they often do in the spring cabaret.

“We do a fall cabaret which is all about death, and scary things, and in the spring we usually do something to do with fertility and that green force,” she  says.

“Often religion tends to figure in that one for some reason. In previous versions we’ve had a rabbi and a Buddhist monk and a Catholic priest.”

In addition to the main plot, the cabaret also features a series of one-off acts, which will in most cases be as much a surprise for the main players as the audience.

“We definitely ask people who we know can pull good pieces out of their hat,” says Harwood. “Sometimes we get something that’s a little ‘oh my goodness’ but mostly we’re excited. It’s part of what makes it fun for us as well.”

Rounding out the lineup this year are several cabaret vets, including Joel Cottingham, Blair Leaman, Krista Lynch and Lisel Forst. Magician Lisa Menna also returns to the stage, while Capitol executive director Neil Harrower will make his Oxygen debut.

On the Road to Salmo runs Saturday at the Capitol Theatre starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available through the theatre box office. As with past cabarets it bears the troupe’s usual warnings: bring your sense of humour, but leave the kids at home.

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