Steamboat Springs The first rehearsal for the 2002 "Cabaret" was choreographed chaos Sunday at the Depot.
Director Doug Lockwood was talking to the guys in the band Flashback about the introduction song, while co-director Scott Parker buzzed through the room, picking actors to stand on stage for the act.
"You guys want to be in the opening? How about you guys? You can't, you're in the first skit. Hey, do you guys want to do this?" he said to everyone he made eye contact with. "I'll let you know as we go along what we are doing."
Meanwhile, other actors were going over lines, the band worked out different parts of their song and people milled about the room, practicing dance routines and talking about different things.
"It's always like this," actor Aly Matthews said in a quiet, high voice that just barely was heard over the noise. "It's so fun."
In only two days, the cast of nearly 30 people was ready for the dress rehearsal on Wednesday, and then opening night was on Thursday. That gave the cast, crew and band just four days to practice.
Traditional plays in Steamboat are rehearsed for more than four weeks.
"It's amazing how it can come together by Saturday (the last performance). It will be really funny," Parker said.
The impromptu element that comes from the short rehearsal time is part of what makes the show humorous each year. However, another big part of it is writing, which wasn't thrown together at the last minute.
The writers have been meeting since February, putting together skits that poke fun at the biggest news issues, the most public local figures and the largest corporations in the community.
"We get together weekly and talk about ideas and themes," Lockwood said.
"We talk about what is fair game and what is too sensitive to the community."
This year, "Cabaret Sells Out!" pokes a little fun at American Skiing Co. and the canceled sale of the Steamboat Ski Area; City Council President Kathy Connell; newly elected Oak Creek Mayor Cargo Rodeman; real estate developers; and even the Steamboat Pilot & Today gets jabbed a little.
"If you are an elected official, you are fair game," Lockwood said. He added that large corporations are pretty big targets, too.
Other local issues and cultural facts that are satirized in the performance include chronic wasting disease, referring to people who drink too much; a spoof of the Rolling Stones' classic song "Honky Tonk Woman," titled "Burly Mountain Woman"; and a "Wizard of Oz" parody, which has Dorothy following the Yampa Core Trail to Emerald City. She encounters a person with too many brains and no job, a statue (art) that doesn't have a home and a liar who comes from the forest of real estate agents, developers and brokers oh my.
It has been like that for the 20 years "Cabaret" has been a part of Steamboat Springs' culture.
But through all that time of having fun, eventually there have been some people who just didn't think it was funny.
One former City Council member, who was mimicked a few years ago in a skit, vowed never to see "Cabaret" again.
"So, I guess we were bad," Lockwood said.
However, he adds that some local issues have been cut out in the past because they were too offensive.
Other skits have been accused of being a little racy or having a lack of taste. "Cabaret" once earned the name "Caba-racy."
But the bottom line of all the skits is humor, explained writer Alice Klauzer, and people should laugh at themselves.
"If we can't poke fun and people can't take it, then we are not doing our job," Klauzer said.
For the most part, the show is hugely successful every year, and this year is no different. The show sold out weeks before the first performance and some tickets were even put up on ebay, an Internet auction house.
"I don't think we've done anything that offended everyone in the audience," writer Kris Hammond said.