written by Randi McClure, director, for the Cabaret program
Choosing a musical can be challenging. You spend months planning followed by 8 weeks of intensive rehearsal all for three performances where you put it all out on the line. I have always been more inclined towards smaller shows, ones that stretch actors outside of their comfort zones and ask them to try on characters they may have nothing in common with. When I was in high school I loved roles that let me peer into the complexities of adult life, both the ecstatic highs and wrenching lows. Theater teaches us what it means to be human.
In the summer of 2017 I was feeling stuck. Every idea seemed too saccharine, too intimidating, or too something else. It was mid August when the idea of Cabaret just wouldn’t go away. It was after watching the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, VA that I couldn’t get Cabaret out of my head. Here were Nazis. In America. In 2017. The idea of directing anything other than Cabaret seemed impossible. The idea of directing anything else seemed cowardly.
I was nervous about picking Cabaret. It’s not what one might call an ‘easy’ show. There were Nazis, tumultuous and sometimes violent relationships and a good deal of it takes place in a seedy nightclub. However, few musicals speak of love, loss, and disillusionment as beautifully as Cabaret.
The play was inspired by Christopher Isherwood’s novels ‘The Berlin Stories’. Isherwood was a young English novelist who traveled to Berlin to experience the “Golden Age” of jazz, cabarets, and relaxed ideas around of sex and homosexuality. He lived there during the rise of the Nazi party and the people he met inspired his stories of Sally, Herr Schultz and Ernst; they were all based on real people living in the Nollendorfplatz in 1929. Knowing that all of our characters were based on real people gave our rehearsal process a kind of weight. We wanted to do right by these people.
Directing Cabaret has been a profound experience. Watching these young actors research their characters, overcome fears and doubts, and dedicate themselves to finding the truths in their roles fills my heart with such deep affection. With an entirely student-run technical crew and a mostly student filled pit band this show truly belongs to the students that have created it. I feel honored to have worked with this group. I hope you enjoy the show.
Sincerely, Randi McClure