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“Cabaret” actress helps Bucks playhouse open cabaret space


They are bidding “willkommen” to a new cabaret space at the Bucks County Playhouse this weekend, a new musical hope honed by BCP producers’ stage-savvy sense of expanded theatrical service to the region.

And who better than to play the space than a frisky fräulein whose room with a view is of sylvan bucolic Bucks rather than sinister sordid Berlin?

Meet Bucks County’s...Sally Bowles?

Well, not Sally herself, but Doylestown’s Jenny Lee Stern, who bowled over audiences last year at another Bucks theater in “Cabaret” is about to sally forth on the stage of the BCP’s renovated barn. She is billed as a special guest star during headliner Nick Cearley’s “I Didn’t Recognize You With Clothes On!”

Don’t tell Mama: The headliner is known for his carefree nearly clothes-free accomplishments in The Skivvies band he fronts.

Do tell Mama: He’s all-clad for the cabaret.

Indeed, adds Stern, tell everyone: “The whole point here is that his clothes are on,” teased Stern.

Cabaret is a major attraction as a music model that is attracting fans around the country. Stern is such an aficionado — on and off the stage.

She has captured and connected with the cabaret sound often, notably in New York, where the actress, who made her Broadway bow in “Rocky” 10 years ago, regularly rocks the New York club scene with her spirited spin on tunes past and present.

“The new Barn space is a great opportunity to [showcase] cabaret; a great little asset for the playhouse,” she said.

Stern has been a BCP asset since portraying “Annie” decades ago. Prior to that, her performance there in Anthony Newley’s musical “Stop the World! I Want to Get Off!” got her off and running as an actress.

She, herself, is famously tuneful in a music world that stops to admire her vocals, whether in a series of “Forbidden Broadway” send-ups or shows over the years at BCP and the Walnut Street Theatre, among many others.

If there’s anything that stops her in her soundtracks, it’s the role she covets most: “Mom-ing,” she quips of her family cast of three daughters, who are also involved in the area stage scene.

“They’ve told me they want to be just like their mom,” she said.

And Mom wants nothing more for them “than to have skin that is soft.”

Not like Mom: “Oh, Honey, I’ve had tough skin — which you need in this business — since I was out of the womb.”

A born trouper, she had the best of a supporting cast: Her mother, Sharon, is a retired speech pathologist; Dad Martin was voted in as a member of the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Coaches Hall of Fame for his long much-honored run as track coach at Villanova University.

And, now, their daughter has to run to keep up with her busy schedule, concluding with a hint that something big and Broadway marquee-worthy might just be “be on my horizon.”

It’s quite a view this vivacious Doylestown delight has of life, coming and going from her beloved Bucks.

And why not? Sure beats, sitting alone in a room when you can not only hear the music play, but be an in instrumental part of its palpating appeal.

Michael Elkin is a playwright, theater critic and novelist who lives in Abington. He writes columns about theater and the arts.

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