Historical Commentary as Theatre: Cabaret

The world renowned musical Cabaret was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on February 27, 2020 at 7:30pm. The production was in sponsorship with the School of Music, the Lyric Theatre, the Illinois Theatre, and Dance at Illinois. 

By Elena Grantcharski 

Program for the Cabaret Production

The musical took place in 1930s Germany. The music was a testament to this time period because of the cabaret style jazz music. The music was played by a live jazz band on stage. It reminds me of the jazz bands that were prevalent during the Roaring Twenties. This time period in general was the beginning stage of jazz as a music genre in general. In terms of the characters, the music was usually a form of dialogue for each of the characters. For example, every solo piece Sally Bowles sang expressed her desires, emotions, and plan of action at the moment. Her first piece showed us her life at the club and how she ended up having the career she does.

The stage at Tryon Festival Theatre

The stage sets in the musical were fantastic. I cannot imagine the amount of work put into them and how extremely fluid the movement of the sets was. The sets would move off stage and rotate to fluidly change from scene to scene. Some of the places that the sets showed were the rooms that Cliff Bradshaw lives in, the Cabaret Club that was home to the Kit Kat Club, the wedding venue for Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, and “The Void.” The costumes were also interesting because they displayed how Nazism slowly but surely emerged in Germany by showing how more and more characters would get Nazi patches on their clothes.

The cast at the end

Overall, I enjoyed the musical but my deepest impression was the ending. The ending made me feel very powerfully disturbed and I was impressed that a musical was able to instill that emotion in me. I came to the musical, knowing nothing about it. I did not even read a summary before watching it. I had no idea that it was pre Holocaust and how emotionally stimulating it could be about a real historical event. 

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