Photo by: Charlie Martin
This April, Brock Musical Theatre (BMT) will be performing Cabaret at the Marilyn I. Walker Centre, by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Tams-Witmark.
Cabaret is set in Berlin in the 1930s. The play follows American novelist Cliff Bradshaw — played by second-year DARTS major Maddox Keller — living in a hotel run by Fraulein Schneider — played by third-year concurrent education major Maddy Roddick. He falls in love with English cabaret singer Sally Bowles — played by second-year business communication major Anna Varga — but their lives are disrupted by the emerging Third Reich.
The BMT team noted that this production is different from past productions, especially last year’s. Second-year business student Kian Diab, who is both assistant director and actor in this production, commented on how this year’s production benefits from a live audience.
“Last year, we were doing a bit of a hybrid performance because we were in person, we had the theatre rented and we had to set in costumes, but we had to film it because of COVID and stream that production,” he said. “This year, it feels a lot more real.”
Even outside of the lifted COVID-19 restrictions, this production benefits from having a professional director. Fifth-year concurrent education student Katie Foshay, club executive and actor in Cabaret, commented on how his experience and connections have added to this year’s productions.
“Our director was the founder of BMT back in 2004-05, and he’s been working professionally in the industry since he graduated. This is the first year that BMT has really had the opportunity to work with a professional; usually it’s completely student run and driven. And this year we’ve been getting guest speakers, people who have worked on Broadway and Stratford and people who have done professional movies. We have these amazing people coming in to give us tips and give us advice and let us know that what we’re doing is good and that we are on the right track.”
The director in question, 2008 Brock alumnus Bri Waters, reminisced on the origins of BMT, and noted how far the club has come since then.
“It’s a lot more organized I think,” he said. “Back in the day, a bunch of us just figured it out and through trial and error, we learned how to put on a show, but it was some great learning. And then we did it again, then again. And then I graduated, and somebody else took it over. And it’s just been going ever since which is really remarkable. So it’s evolved quite a bit in the last however many years. It just goes to show, people love it.”
As for the play itself, the team agrees that — despite its established time period — Cabaret is a timeless work of fiction.
“It’s the play that keeps getting done,” said Waters. “There’s three productions of it in Ontario this month. And I think we just don’t learn; history continues to repeat itself. The musical is about the ‘30s in Berlin and the rise of the Nazi Party, but it was made into a musical in the ‘60s during the civil rights movement. Now fast forward to 2023 and we’re going through it again; anti-Semitism is alive and well in North America. Cabaret has a really wonderful job at turning a mirror — sometimes literally — on the audience.”
Foshay furthered this point, stating that the play presents a serious issue with a bunch of flashy dance numbers.
“It’s different from every production that I’ve been in before,” she said. “It’s a little bit deeper, it’s a little bit more serious. Cabaret focuses on this dark issue, but covers it in glitter. And then like really hitting home that this is what it’s about… we’re here to entertain you. But we’re also here to make you think.”
Fifth-year interactive arts and sciences major Monique Brown, who plays the pivotal emcee character in Cabaret, took particular note of the second half of the play.
“For me, the standout part in Cabaret is probably act two because it is so dark,” she said. “The show starts off pretty happy. Like Katie said, everything is covered in glitter. But then in the end, you see the undertones and how dark things are and it’s like, ‘oh no things are not great here.’”
BMT will be performing at 7:30 p.m. everyday from Apr. 5 to 8, with an additional performance at 1:30 p.m. on Apr. 8. Tickets can be purchased through the Linktree link in BMT’s Instagram bio.