Upon first entering the Bruce Davis Theater in Montgomery Hall on Friday night in order to watch the school’s production of the musical Cabaret, the atmosphere can be a bit of a shock.
From the change in the set-up of audience seating and the live orchestra to the actors who walk around in fishnet tights and speak with German accents, the mood becomes drastically different.
When the advertisers of the production had mentioned that they wanted the theater to feel like the audience members were truly attending the Kit Kat Klub, the nightclub in which many of the play’s scenes take place, they weren’t joking around.
The entire audience section has been rearranged for the production’s seven showings of the play. The bleacher-like seating has mostly been taken down, with only two small sections remaining at the back of the theater, and a dozen or so tables have been put around the stage, which is what helps creates the nightclub-esque setting.
The doors are opened by the ushers forty-five minutes in advance in order to allow the audience time to find seats, snack on the pretzels that have been placed at every table, and order drinks from the actors who temporarily become waiters, while also staying in character.
Then, promptly at 8 o’clock, the production begins as a few of the Kit Kat Klub girls begin engaging in an altercation in the middle of the audience.
The playgoers, though, slowly become used to the mingling of the actors and actresses throughout the audience, as it happens fairly often during the two-and-a-half-hour production. Although this can cause some audience members to feel slightly uncomfortable, it still adds more to the whole experience.
From one of the Nazi officers plucking a pretzel off of one of the tables only to bite it and throw it back down at the audience, to (perhaps the cutest part of the play) Maria Tolbert dancing around the floor with a particularly young and enthusiastic child from the front row, these interactions reinforce the feel that the audience member is not only attending the Kit Kat Klub, but has become a part of the play itself.
A note of advice should be given, though: if you do not feel comfortable with actors mingling in the audience or touching you, it would be best to not sit in any of the front row or aisle seats.
Overall, though, most audience members seemed to highly enjoy the play. While the execution of the dancing could have been far better, the singing and acting were very well done.
Briana Manente and Daniel Glassberg, who played the love-stricken characters of Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, added most of the comic relief that helped to break up the other political and promiscuous themes of the production.
The actors were all able to achieve decent replications of the stereotyped German accent for their parts, which at times weren’t comprehensible, but were still fairly well done.
The accents, along with the costumes that mainly consisted for both males and females of fishnets, bodices, and large amounts of uncovered skin, were helpful in achieving the atmosphere of the naughty and promiscuous 1930s Berlin nightlife.
The three remaining showings of Cabaret are scheduled for March 9-11 at 8 p.m. in the Bruce Davis Theater of Montgomery Hall.