By Tanner Kent
---- — For Corban Noah, the most challenging aspect of participating in Cabaret Le Ruse's latest variety show isn't donning yellow underwear and an Elvis wig for another chapter in the Captain Gravitone saga.
Neither is it playing the role of a hair-brained detective in a diamond-heist skit or feigning an intentionally bad accent in another about bad customer service.
Though playing six different roles is no small assignment in the Cabaret's four-show tour of its April Fool's Day-themed variety show "Fool Me Once," Noah said one challenge in particular stands out.
In North Mankato playwright Greg Abbott's short play "Hair Band," Noah plays the supposed lead guitarist for the once-legendary hair band The Reptiles. When a rabid fan attends a tribute band festival, she is certain she's found the real thing.
To prepare for the part, Noah honed a Cockney accent by watching YouTube videos. Though he said he's happy with his progress, he added that delivering the lines on stage will be a different matter.
"Learning a rant in a different accent and then pulling it off fluently," he said, "is definitely a little challenging."
With the debut of "Fool Me Once" on Friday, Cabaret Le Ruse will be holding its third-ever production.
The first was a collaboration with local four-piece folk rockers String Theory on "Gravitone, the Musical." Based on String Theory's 2013 album, "What's the Matter with Captain Gravitone?," the musical introduced audiences to an idealistic, but angst-ridden superhero who battles himself as often as his various nemeses.
Gravitone showed up again during Cabaret's Christmas-themed production in December and this edition includes yet another chapter in the superhero's existential saga.
Among the variety show's trio of 10-minute plays is "Gravitone v. Gravitone," in which three individuals claiming to be Gravitone arrive to save the planet, leaving onlookers to decipher which is the real hero.
Though Noah admitted he is playing one of the Gravitone roles, he would not disclose whether he was real superhero or an imposter.
"If people want to find out which one, they'll have to come and see," he said.
Most of the content in Cabaret's variety show is themed around the idea of a ruse.
In addition to the confused identities of glam rockers and superheroes, the show includes a play about one woman's choice about the truth and predictive power of tarot cards, a skit about interacting with the world's worst customer service agency and its curiously voiced agent, and other skits about evil stoplights, mysterious authors and diamond thieves.
Furthermore, the variety show includes poetry and musical interludes as well as special guests and City Mouse musicians Billy Steiner, Ron Aresenault and Dave Pengra.
All told, the variety show is about 90 minutes long and moves swiftly.
"We had to plan everything pretty carefully to give enough time for costume and set changes," said Abbott, who teamed up with regular Cabaret contributors Esther Hoffmann and John Rezmerski to write much of the material. "We have a lot more than previous shows, but it moves a lot faster."
If You Go What Cabaret Le Ruse's "Fool Me Once" Performances ■ 8 p.m. on Friday at Henderson Roadhaus ■ 8 p.m. on Saturday at Arts Center of St. Peter ■ 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Mankato Event Center ■ 8 p.m. on April 4 at Grand Kabaret Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Advance tickets available at the venues, or by calling 507-420-1881