As a part of MSUFCU’s Broadway Series, the Broadway classic Cabaret comes to East Lansing’s Wharton Center for Performing Arts, as part of the show’s first North American tour since 1999.
Premiering in 1966, Cabaret has become a staple of the Broadway community around the world. Written by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff, its original production received critical acclaim, ultimately winning eight Tony Awards. Not surprisingly, a mere six years later the movie debuted to box office glory and is still considered to be amongst the most culturally significant movie musicals produced.
The Roundabout Theatre Company has had two revivals of the show play on Broadway; the first being in 1998 and the second in 2014. The production coming to Wharton Center is an exact replica of the Broadway production that played for a year before closing on Mar. 29, 2015.
“Cabaret follows a young American named Cliff Bradshaw as he travels to Berlin in 1933,” said Maxie Froelicher, a theater major at Michigan State whose favorite musical happens to be Cabaret. “[Bradshaw] visits the Kit Kat Klub, where he meets Sally Bowles and a host of other creative characters. The show describes the subtle dissent of Berlin, as the Nazi Party rises to power, which complicates relationships between the characters.”
Filled with captivating songs, including, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” “Cabaret” and “I Don’t Care Much,” Cabaret manages to capture the imaginations of each and every audience member. This show forces the audience to fall in love with songs that contain underlying morbid messages regarding the Nazi Party and negative stereotypes of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany. Regarding the music and the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production, cast member Kelsey Beckert said, “It’s amazing music, first of all, from Kander and Ebb. This Tony Award-winning production … they’ve really uncovered something so amazing.”
Beckert has been an important part of the Cabaret tour since July 2015. As a swing, she learned the roles of other actors in rehearsals and can now go on for any of those roles if an actor is sick or on vacation. “I cover five roles, the Kit Kat girls. We’ve done 300 shows, and I’ve gone on roughly 70 times … [about] once or twice a week.”
On why the show has been so significant inside and out of the Broadway community, Beckert said, “It’s just one of those shows you can take away something different, every time you see it.” Having been around Cabaret for a year and a half, Beckert has a unique understanding of what she would like the audience to take away from seeing it. “The Emcee says something late in the show–‘leben und leben lassen’ – [which] translates to ‛live and let live.’ I think that [viewers should] walk away being more accepting, more open and more loving to people who are different from them.”
Cabaret plays at the Wharton Center for a limited time, from Feb. 21 to Feb. 26, 2017. Regular and discounted student tickets are available in person, at whartoncenter.com or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.
Stefani Chudnow is a junior double majoring in professional writing and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities. In addition to ing, she is a stagehand at the RCAH Theatre as well as a devoted Broadway and television enthusiast.