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Five questions with Jake Shears of 'Cabaret'

Performer and co-lead vocalist of pop-rock band Scissor Sisters, Jake Shears discusses how it feels to be on stage as the Emcee in Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club.

Suzy Evans
Suzy Evans

Jake Shears has gone from the Scissor Sisters to starring in Cabaret to opening his own musical on Broadway, and he’s only just getting started. He opens up to London Theatre about his dream roles in theatre and connecting with the audience.

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How is playing the Emcee in Cabaret similar to being the frontman for a band?

The Emcee really fronts the show in a certain way so what’s fun about doing the role is that I get to use all that I know about fronting a band and doing that kind of performance in a show like this. My main scene partner is the audience. It was very interesting going through rehearsals for this because it was only when I hit the stage on our first night in front of an audience that it finally clicked and came alive for me.

Have you used your pop experience and applied it to your role in Cabaret?

What’s fun in the show is to make the connection with the audience and to really have everyone feel seen in the room from the top of the show. Making that connection with the audience members right away and immediately guiding them a little bit as to what they’re about to see, is really one of the most exciting things about doing this. I love it, every night I have an absolute blast.

You’ve also written the score for the Broadway-bound Tammy Faye musical. Do you have a preference – performing or writing? What do you like about each?

I feel like there’s so many different facets to what I do now, whether it’s being in a show, on stage in my solo band, writing a musical or a book.

I like all of it. I consider myself a creative overall and performance is always going to be my number one – but there is something so satisfying about sitting in an audience for a musical that you’ve made with other incredible people, that you’ve all worked so hard for, to see the lights come on and witness it along with an audience. It’s one of the biggest satisfactions I’ve ever felt.

Do you see any more theatre in your future – either as a performer or a writer?

I love theatre, I’m crazy about theatre. This is my third production. I did Bent with Moisés Kaufman in LA, and did Kinky Boots on Broadway, and now I’ve done Emcee. I love it. I love being in the theatre, I love theatre folk, and it’s an amazing way to get to perform so much and be in your own bed every night. I hope to be doing theatre, whether writing or being it, for as long as I’m able.

Do you have a dream role in a musical or play?

I was talking to Mason Alexander Park about this. They were an amazing Emcee – I was just so blown away by them, and they are just a wonderful person. Mason’s played Hedwig (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Emcee, and we were talking about Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror. To me that’s kind of the trifecta of roles we’d ever want to play. I’d love to do Hedwig someday, and I’d love to do Frank. Those are my dreams at the moment.

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Photo credit: Jake Shears in Cabaret. (Photo courtesy of production)

This interview first appeared in the January 2024 issue of London Theatre Magazine.

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