Theater Review: ‘Cabaret’

Danielle Leventhal | Theater Critic
Edison Theatre
Friday, Oct. 26th 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 27th 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, Oct 28th 2:00 p.m.
$15 (adults)
$10 (students, seniors, children)

The Performing Arts Department’s production of “Cabaret,” an eccentric musical set in a raunchy nightclub in 1930s Berlin, was successfully stirring in its first round of performances at the Edison Theatre last weekend.

Directed by Annamaria Pileggi, the show tells the story of Sally Bowles (junior Sarah Palay), a British performer at the Kit Kat Klub who falls in love with Cliff Bradshaw (graduate student Billy Biegler), an American writer visiting Germany. Another relationship plays out between Cliff’s landlord, Fraulein Schneider (junior Ariel Saul) and an elderly Jewish food vendor, Herr Schultz (senior Micajah Dudley) when they dangerously get engaged during the Nazis’ rise to power. Although the characters are wrapped up in singing, dancing and sexual freedom, the Emcee and Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub (senior Pete Winfrey) reminds the audience that they are in the midst of political tumult and corruption and acts as the catalyst for the plot with an eerie perkiness.

Winfrey’s captivating energy as the Emcee transports the audience to Berlin—full of decadence, ugliness and unfairness—and with a powerful message and story to tell. The show keeps its audience at the edge of their seats. And at the edge of the stage: in order to truly invite the audience to forget their worries and come to the cabaret, chairs were set on stage for audience members to become involved in the act.

Whether or not you sit on stage, the dynamic characters and scandalous storyline will inevitably shock you. You are challenged not only to wrap your head around the ugliness of the world but also to let go of your inhibitions and enjoy the show. One of the stars, Biegler, finds the show haunting.

“Cabaret is much more than Liza Minnelli. It is much more than some incredible songs, than remembering the ’20s in Berlin, than raunchy/sexy dancing, than bon vivant lifestyles. Cabaret is about telling the story of people whose lives were destroyed for being different: the queers, the Jews, the social outcasts and the gypsies. These stories cannot and should never be forgotten. This show offers a real opportunity to look at the destructive capabilities of people,” Biegler said.

Even members of the orchestra, positioned across from the lucky audience members on stage, embrace the spirit of the show by cross-dressing. Audience members all in the cabaret together, there to be entertained, abandon their troubles and be themselves. This theme of self-exploration didn’t come naturally to the actors—the hard work they put in to reach this point of eccentricity is evident in their engaging performance.

“I often have trouble releasing my inhibitions, but from day one, we all explored the different components of this show. Watching how courageous others were in their explorations really inspired me to have fun and find this story. It was so helpful to know that my cast-mates had my back. I never felt judged for the choices I made, and I really appreciated that,” junior Palay, who plays Sally Bowles, said.

The fun in letting go is certainly apparent and shared with the audience. All of the actors’ personal connections and exploration within this meaningful story (including perfected, realistic German and English accents) make it that much more interesting and real for the rest of us in the cabaret.

For your chance to explore and discover the thrill for yourself, come to the “Cabaret” this weekend, playing at the Edison Theatre on Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m.