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Theatre series opens with Broadway hit ‘Cabaret’
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Theatre series opens with Broadway hit ‘Cabaret’

Clifford Bradshaw (Justin Burr), left, does his best to make a good impression on Sally Bowles (Hayley Philyaw) as the Master of Ceremonies (Kiernan Matts) looks on in a scene from the Fredonia production of “Cabaret.”

An adaption of an award-winning Broadway musical will open the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series. The Department of Theatre and Dance will present six performances of “Cabaret” from Oct. 14 to 18 in Marvel Theatre.

Performance dates and times are Oct. 14, 15, 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 17 and 18 at 2 p.m. With adult themes and content, the production is recommended for mature audiences only.

With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and book by Joe Masteroff, “Cabaret” is the tale of an aspiring writer who meets a cabaret performer during the waning years of Berlin’s notorious cabaret scene. It is based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood.

Tom Loughlin, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, and director of the musical, said the Mainstage production is based on the 1987 adaption of the popular work.

“We intend to do a faithful adaptation of the script and score,” Loughlin said. “Historically, ‘Cabaret’ has seen a number of adaptations from its original production in 1966 to now. There have been many revivals and many different interpretations. Ours is the 1987 revival, the latest one for which we could obtain the rights.”

The director noted that many audiences probably do not know that the musical does not contain the same songs from stage adaptations and the movie.

“At this point, ‘Cabaret’ is quite the mash-up musical,” Loughlin said. “For us, though, we are putting across the idea to our audiences that the ‘Cabaret’ you may think you know is not the ‘Cabaret’ we will be producing.

He said the image of “Cabaret” as a show featuring glamorous dancing girls while serving as a vehicle stars like Liza Minnelli is not true representation of what the show is about.

“There are many dark elements and undertones to the show, and our production will not ignore those elements,” Loughlin said. “The show presents a world where sexual and gender fluidity is set against the riding tide of the Third Reich.”

“We hope to make clear how those elements clashed with each other in the Berlin of 1933,” he added.

To assist in this process, the production will make use of high definition projections – a first for the Marvel stage, according to Loughlin.

“We hope these projections will help enhance the sense of time and space for the play as well as provide some meta-information to the audience about the state of German society at the fall of the Wiemar Republic,” he said. “This should enrich the audience’s appreciation of the play and its themes.”

Loughlin attributes the longevity of “Cabaret” to its musical score.

“The music produced by Kander and Ebb is truly sparkling, and so varied in its approach. It runs from light lyric ballads to energetic satirical numbers,” he said. “I also think that the show’s feature dance numbers with the Kit Kat Girls and the Emcee are also one of the show’s feature elements that keeps it popular.”

Loughlin noted “Cabaret” features one of the largest casts ever for a Fredonia production.

“There are 42 cast members in this show,” Loughlin said. “This show is the largest cast that I can ever recall on the Marvel stage. We made the conscious decision to separate the Kit Kat Klub dancers from the singers so as to utilize some of the remarkable talent we have in the dance program. I also added an ensemble of people to serve as Kit Kat Klub patrons so as to keep the life of the club continuous and lively.”

The production also incorporates talent from the Fredonia School of Music. There are nine musicians under the direction of Dr. Paula Holcomb performing the musical score.

In addition, Loughlin said there is a backstage crew of 25 and another 40 students who are involved in building the set or designing costumes.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have so much talent in the department and our effort here has been to utilize that talent to its maximum to produce this musical,” Loughlin said. “We hope the effect will be one that will bring to our audiences a truly big-time Broadway experience.”

“Cabaret” is sponsored by M&T Bank as part of the Lake Shore Savings Season. Tickets are available at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 and online at fredonia.edu/tickets.

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