Cabaret is Ohio University’s first musical in three years.
Cabaret is a musical set in the Weimar Republic, pre-World War II Berlin, Germany. American writer Clifford Bradshaw meets seedy cabaret singer Sally Bowles and they fall in love. The subtle rise of fascism is demonstrated throughout the play.
“I think it speaks to current times, even though it’s set in the late 1930’s,” Michael Lincoln, head of OU’s School of Theatre division, said. “We aren’t updating it at all to adapt to modern times. It’s up to audiences to make connections if they want.”
Audiences will recognize Cabaret when they hear the music.
“It’ll feel familiar. The songs are just so ingrained into our culture now,” Lincoln said.
Noah Gruenberg, a sophomore studying music composition, is playing the banjo for Cabaret.
“When I first listened to the soundtrack, I wasn’t sure if there was much of a plot,” he said. “But there is.”
Gruenberg plays on almost every song.
“It’s very upbeat and fun, most of the time. The second act gets sad.” Gruenberg said.
Cabaret is famous for not only its music but also its layered storytelling.
“Cabaret was one of the first concept musicals. It is unlike most musicals because it’s not fluffy and it’s not feel-good,” Anne McAlexander, a third-year MFA student and director of Cabaret, said. “The music just kind of reflects what’s going on throughout the play. A lot of songs don’t drive the plot, but are tied together through a metaphor or theme.”
McAlexander picked Cabaret because she felt that it has more relevance now than its revival 20 years ago.
“It’s a play about what happens when a group of people don’t know the dangers of indifference. It’s about the subtle rise of hatred and nationalism, when good people don’t know to act,” McAlexander said.
OU’s production is one of a kind. There have been various Broadway revivals and a film throughout the years, each with its own modifications.
“We’ve cut and added a couple songs that don’t always appear in productions, but fundamentally it’s the same,” McAlexander said.
Productions of Cabaret are interactive, McAlexander said. Audiences are the audience of the Kit Kat Club, the cabaret of Cabaret, so it is an immersive and fun experience. It also allows viewers to leave with something to think about.
“People will find it to be a satisfying theatrical experience,” McAlexander said.
The production of Cabaret will also feature talkbacks. That will give audiences a chance to give feedback and ask about Cabaret, to both cast and staff.
Talkbacks will be after the Saturday and Wednesday performances.
“It gives a chance for people to ask questions, so we can also reflect with our team,” McAlexander said.
The Saturday talkback will feature a guest-speaker. Associate professor of German Dr. Bärbel Such will speak on the Weimar Republic and ‘30s Berlin. The Wednesday talkback will be with directors, actors and set designers.
“Everyone has been really invested and working really hard. Our cast has been taking the challenge head-on. It’s been a lot bigger than expected, both the amount of actors and the set. It’s been fun. It’s been a great adventure,” McAlexander said.
Cabaret is divided into two acts with an intermission. The run time is about two and a half hours.
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated how many times Cabaret has been performed at OU. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.