- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 22, 2001

Washingtonian Allison Spratt makes it very clear that she doesn't identify with the crazy, mixed-up character of Sally Bowles, whom she plays in a new touring version of the musical "Cabaret," coming to the Warner Theatre next week but she certainly has learned to understand her.
"Working on a character doesn't happen overnight," Miss Spratt says. "It took a lot of rehearsing and practicing to build her from scratch."
Miss Spratt never had seen a stage production of the musical about an English woman's adventures in the decadent Berlin of the late 1920s and '30s until the night before she auditioned in New York City for the lead role. She rented a video to help in her attempt to join the latest revival of the well-known, award-winning show.
At age 23, Miss Spratt already is a veteran of the business that this year will have her on the road for a total of nine months.
The "Cabaret" cast of 22 has been traveling for three months by bus between venues such as Salt Lake City, Utah, and Sioux City, Iowa, where Miss Spratt was reached by telephone. The troupe gets a week off after Washington and then another week free in May. "Cabaret" opens in Baltimore in June.
The performers arrive here Christmas Eve and go to the Warner on Dec. 26 to have what Miss Spratt calls "a load in," adjusting to the new space. Six-hour rehearsals will be held Thursday and Friday, with shows each night.
"A lot of people don't know how hard this job and this profession is. You are on call for 24 hours," she says cheerfully.
The Washington appearance means coming to the only place she calls home. Her parents, Ron and Anne Spratt of Bethesda, are here, and she will have a chance to be with her dog. About 200 friends and family members are expected to be in the audience Thursday to see the 1996 graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. They include her grandfather, Elwood Davis, who at 87 still practices law. A sister is coming in from California.
"Performing at the Warner is definitely a huge honor, not only for me, but for my family. It feels like my own Broadway," she enthuses. "I saw 'Dream Girls' there in high school, the last time I recall going there. It's a wonderful place because it is so intimate."
When Miss Spratt was about 12, her parents took her to see Liza Minnelli in the movie version of "Cabaret." She found it "scandalous and risque," she recalls. "My parents sat me down ahead and said, 'This is what is happening here.' You grew up fast in the military."
Miss Spratt, whose father was in the Marines and retired as a lieutenant colonel, was born in Oklahoma but spent most of her younger years in the Washington area. She attended Elon University in North Carolina, where she majored in musical theater.
She gravitated early to a performing life, being part of Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park and the Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts. She also trained at Joy of Motion Dance Center locally and the Washington School of Ballet.
During her senior year in college, Miss Spratt got her first break when she was cast as a member of the national tour of "Jekyll & Hyde." It was an ensemble role, but she also got to understudy for the leads and substituted for one performance. That tour taught her a lot about "staying healthy and saving money in order to take a rest in the summer," she says.
As a "military brat," she says, "I love to travel. I'm a gypsy. Fortunately, I've been able to say that I've been employed ever since college and so never had a permanent home. I'm lucky because at my young age I can do it. I've always known this is what I wanted to do."
It must have been an omen when her parents announced her birth with stage tickets, listing themselves as directors of the production. Her father's sister, Victoria Regan, a former national ballroom champion who teaches in New York City, was in the original cast of "42nd Street."
WHAT: "Cabaret"
WHERE: Warner Theatre, 13th and E streets NW
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday through next Saturday and Dec. 31, 7 p.m. Dec. 30 and 2 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30
TICKETS: $26.50 to $64
PHONE: 703/573-SEAT, 301/808-6900 or 202/432-SEAT

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