Starting Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Nelly Goletti Theater will be transformed into 1931 Berlin, Germany as the Marist Theatre Program and the Marist College Club of Theatre Arts (MCCTA) put on the musical Cabaret. The musical centers on a German nightclub, the Kit Kat Club, and how various Berliners and foreigners respond to the rising Nazi regime.  It also tells the love story of Cliff, an American writer visiting Berlin, and English club singer Sally.

“It’s about…the rise of conservatism, and how it was a response to the raciness, the wildness, of the clubs in Berlin,” says senior Eddy Lee, who plays Herr Schultz.  He promises that the production is, “not shying away from the [sexuality] of the show.  The costumes are very revealing, but they’re all important to the storytelling.”

A cast photo.

A cast photo.

Lee’s character is a Jewish fruit shop owner who is in love with Fraulein Schneider, who runs a boardinghouse.  “He’s trying to start a life with her, but…they run into difficulties when the government and the people around them aren’t supporting…their engagement,” he explains.

Senior Kim Kenny, the production’s stage manager, applied to help with the show before she knew anything about it. “I find it more fun when I don’t know the show,” she said.  “That way, I kind of learn it as I go along.”  She says that if you don’t have any expectations, “you see it all come together in a different light than you would if you knew it.”

This is the fifth show Kenny has stage managed at Marist, but it’s her first time stage managing a Marist mainstage production.  For the mainstage shows, which happen once a semester, the theatre program brings in professionals to choreograph, provide music direction, and design the sound and lighting.  For example, the professional sound designer for Cabaret, Mark Weglinski, is a sound designer for ABC studios.  Kenny says that working with professionals provides a very different experience: “Instead of working with your peers…you have professionals, who do these things in the real world.”  For the most part, she finds it easier, because, “they know what’s expected of them, and they know how to do it because they’ve been doing it for so long.”  

Junior Gabriela Morris, who is the dance captain for Cabaret, loves the experience of working with the show’s professional choreographer, Luis Perez.  “He’s an inspiration to me as a dancer and choreographer,” she said.  While Perez choreographed all the big [dance] numbers, Morris, “was lucky enough to work on choreography for a small scene.”  She also learns all of the dances and teaches them to the swings and understudies, in addition to “[making] sure everyone is caught up” and helping the cast if they need it.  She says that, “there are a handful of dances in the show, each with a character of [its] own, which makes them so fun to work on.”

For Lee, one of the biggest challenges of the rehearsal process was perfecting the German accent.  “Some people got it naturally, like Liana (Frasca, who plays his love interest).  She wowed us the first rehearsal.  Me, I’ve struggled,” he admitted.  The cast has visited the language center in the library, in addition to working with a professional language specialist who has helped them all master the accent.

Lee thinks that people should come to the show because, “it’s a timeless story.  It’s a story that should never be forgotten.”  He says that disagreement with government is a significant and relevant theme, particularly as it pertains to his character, who is Jewish. “He says he’s a German just like everyone else, but his government is telling him no, he’s not.”  

Kenny agrees that today, “in a time where people do have a lot of fear, and there’s a lot of xenophobia,” it is more important than ever to see this show.  “I think it’s important for people to see…how similar it can be, even to life now,” she said.

Cabaret is directed by Matt Andrews.  Performances are at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22 through Saturday, Feb. 25 and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, Feb. 26, all in the Nelly Goletti Theatre.

Tickets are $12 for general admission and $6 for students and senior citizens, and can be purchased here: https://boxofficemccta.yapsody.com/

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