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Cowan Hall seats will be filled by audience members for this week's showings of "Cabaret."
Cowan Hall seats will be filled by audience members for this week's showings of "Cabaret."

Otterbein's production of "Cabaret" hopes to dazzle and move audience

After student actors and actresses were pushed out by water damage last year, they finally take center stage in Fritsche Theater for the first production of the semester.

Otterbein’s theatre department is embracing the jazz age of dance, with their production of “Cabaret.”  

“Cabaret” takes place in 1929, as Berlin is slowly overtaken by the emerging Third Reich. The tragedy follows the character Sally Bowles, a well-known dancer at the Kit Kat Klub, as she finds love from an American writer, Cliff Bradshaw. This relationship turns from exciting to ominous as the Nazi party grows more powerful. 

Senior acting major, Jess Noal describes the show as entertaining but also something larger.

“[The show’s] really fun, but like a really impactful story,” said Noal. Her character, Frenchie is a dancer in the Kit Kat Klub, but she also plays in the ensemble, acting the part of a Nazi in many scenes. 

“That is really difficult, but like, I’ve learned so much about being an actor from that,” said Noal. “You have to be able to commit fully in order to be able to tell the story to the audience.” 

Jackson Gifford, a senior musical theater major, says that he’s wanted this role for a long time. 

“It’s been a dream role of mine forever,” said Gifford, about his role of The Emcee. When he noticed that Otterbein’s theatre department almost passed up the musical for different options, Gifford went to the theater head and explained why “Cabaret” should be put on by the department. 

“I think it’s a really important story that a lot of people need to hear right now,” said Gifford. “It feels surprisingly relevant, and I think it’s a warning almost, of what can happen if we turn the other way and don’t necessarily face the problems in front of us.”  

Lenny Leibowitz, director of this production said that the talent of the student actors has allowed him to look at the story in a new light.  

“Because they’re so generous spirited in their performing, I feel like I’m learning the material from them,” said Leibowitz. “The small pockets of mystery are being illuminated by them.” 

Leibowitz explains some of the changes that have been made to this production of “Cabaret" will help audience members who are more familiar with the “Cabaret” movie released in 1972. Popular songs from the movie, such as “Mein Herr,” “Maybe This Time,” and “Money,” have been added to this stage production of “Cabaret.”    

Otterbein’s musical theater department issues an audience advisory, saying that this production, “contains sexually explicit themes/content, violence, and critical depictions of Nazi-ism and anti-Semitism.” Otterbein students, faculty, and staff get free tickets to one of the performances of “Cabaret." 

Show dates for "Cabaret" are Sept. 21 through 24 and Sept. 28 through 30. 

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