Cabaret was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on March 5. The actors were students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their excellent acting, set-making and music made the performance perfect.
Written by Aejin Shin
The setting for the musical “Cabaret” is the Kit Kat Club in Berlin in the 1930s. This was a period of great historical importance and confusion. The performance vividly shows the suffering of ordinary citizens -including American novelist Cliff and his roommate Sally- because of the change in a country’s political ideology and confusion. It showed a part of ordinary life through historical events and some sensitive topics such as eroticism, sex and homosexuality. It begins with an American writer named Cliff traveling to Germany to get the inspiration that he needed to write his novel.
In Cabaret, music helps to deliver the characters’ messages. This is definitely a kind of musical, so it’s meaningless to discuss the show without music. However, Cabaret’s music is quite different from the usual musicals’ composition. Ordinary musicals play romantic songs that contrast with miserable plots, making audiences forget about the difficulties of reality. However, most of the songs played in the performance do not make the audience forget the miserable reality, but make them feel more afraid of the Nazism. For example, with the ending song, ‘Farewell’, one can fully guess that Cabaret’s audience is no longer ordinary public but Nazi party members.
Overall, the songs played during the show are typical jazz and swing in the 1920s and 30s. Also, the characters sing about what they want – love, a beautiful future, and their own beliefs. Every character wants different things, but the energy they emit in an unstable, dangerous, finite life touched me so much. I like the music because it was quite emotional, so it sets the mood, and I can understand what the characters feeling through the music. Also, the music was catchy. So, I could sing it after the performance ended.
This set shows Berlin at that time very effectively. Two structures rotated and showed new backgrounds. These rotations made a variety of sets, including nightclubs, housing complexes, trains, apartments and fruit shops. This allowed the transition between scenes to be natural.
The performance was a combination of funny and sexual comedies and exaggerated expressions. Complex set designs and perfect music allow the audience to focus more on the performance. This performance was more on the love story between people in 1920s and 30s and their lives rather than the big history like WW1 and Nazis, and it makes the performance more interesting. I would like to recommend this performance to everyone!