Musical Preview: Cabaret
by Ashley Griffin
Photography courtesy of Noor Nasser
It’s 1931 in Berlin, Germany. The Nazi party is gaining ground, but the cabaret is an escape from the political uproar that’s brewing.
At the Kit Kat Klub, the cabaret that the title refers to, Sally Bowles sings for Emcee. She meets American Clifford Bradshaw, who goes to Berlin for inspiration for his memoir. The two spark up a romance while the cast navigates the impending implications of an anti-Semitic political party.
Franco Camborda (COM ’19), the director of the musical, said he chose it because he did not like the censorship that he experienced when he did Cabaret in high school.
“When you do something that is supposed to be completely free, and you have a censored direction, I think you just stunt so much area for growth for the real message of the show,” Camborda said.
Camborda added that another attraction of this show is that it conveys themes that are applicable to human nature.
“I wanted to do something that really spoke to the cyclical nature of the show and its commentary on the cyclical nature of humans and how we react to destruction of our conventions of the world in different ways,” Camborda said.
Isabel Weinberg (COM ’19), who plays the female lead role of Sally, said that each character portrays how different groups of people reacted to the rise of the Nazi party.
“I think this show is really an interesting look into the situation because it’s right before everything happened,” Weinberg said. “It kind of perfectly sums up the attitude that all different types of people had.”
Weinberg added that her character doesn’t care about the Nazi regime because they aren’t hurting her. Cliff, as an American, just wants to run away. Character Herr Schultz is a Jew, but he believes his status as a German will protect him from their anti-Semitic violence.
Weinberg said that rehearsals and her role have been challenging.
“They’ve had to change choreography for me for my songs to be a little bit simpler because it’s absolutely impossible for me to be upside down on a chair and singing. I just can’t do that,” Weinberg said.
But these challenges come about in “the best way possible,” and the crew have supported her through the production.
Arielle Kimbarovsky (COM ’20) and Madison Killay (CAS ’19) are the co-chorographers of the show, responsible for curating and teaching the dance numbers of the show.
“The dances range from sort of a fun dance number that you might see in a European cabaret to imagery that reflects Nazi Germany,” Kimbarovsky said.
Killay compared “the whimsical, exciting, party-esque feel” of the choreography of “Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome” in Act One to the choreography of “Money” in Act Two, which she said, “symbolizes the Nazis encroaching of the club and making it more rigid, taking the fun out of it.”
Kimbarovsky said this is an important musical to put on now because its themes are very relevant to the political climate in the U.S. today.
“We’ve seen violence and racial injustice against many, many, many, many different groups by many different people,” Kimbarovsky said, “and it very closely mirrors the political and even economic uncertainty in Germany and then the rest of Europe during the 1930s.”
Killay said Cabaret is appealing because the script has so many appealing features.
“It’s just sexy and people love fun, sexy, exciting things,” Killay said. “And it has humor and tragedy and drama. It has everything.”
Along the same lines, Camborda said the show will, he hopes, make the audience feel a variety of emotions and leave feeling inspired.
“I think people should come see the show because it will hopefully anger them, it will hopefully make them cry, it will hopefully make them laugh, and it will hopefully lead them out of the room with general inspiration to act, to make an active move towards goodness, towards love,” Camborda said.
The show will run November 2–4 in Tsai Performance Center. Purchase tickets here.