From the moment the doors of the auditorium opened, the cast of “Cabaret” was in character, greeting and ushering audience members to their seats with German accent of their characters.
The University of Indianapolis Theatre Department cast 15 students in the show about the underground life in Berlin, Germany.
“Cabaret” tells the love story of an American novelist and English cabaret singer in the 1930s coming of Nazi Germany. The novelist, Clifford “Cliff” Bradshaw, traveled to Berlin to write his next novel and finds himself at a local club where he meets English cabaret singer, Sally Bowles and the people in the underground party life, who either help or hurt the love story of Cliff and Sally.
The cast was taught by a dialect coach to speak with a German accent, according to senior theatre major Carly Wagers, who plays the role of Fräulein Schneider. Her character is the owner of a small hotel in Berlin where Cliff and Sally stay. She said her favorite part of the show is when she sings what the cast refers to as the pineapple song, but is actually called “It Couldn’t Please Me More,” because it is a tender moment for her character. Her character’s love interest gifts her a pineapple, which was an extravagant gift during this time period.
“There’s a lot of different pieces to this crazy big puzzle we put together…”
According to Wagers, the Theatre Department often hires professionals so that the students have the opportunity to work with and also to help the students gain experience. Wagers said that an outside director was hired to direct the production, along with many others. She said that having an outside perspective was a good opportunity for students to work with someone in the theater profession.
Wagers said that the show was not what she was expecting, but when she began learning lines and practicing, she fell in love with it. That is also what she loves about theater, she said, that an actor can become a different person onstage.
“It’s so emotional…. The collaboration of this exchange of emotions and energy with your cast members, with your crew, everyone,” Wagers said. “You’re all coming together and really throwing yourselves into this one project for two months at a time, and by the end, you’re a family. You have to be so vulnerable and you have to be so open and to make good art, you have to be able to give a lot, take a lot, and to see it all come together in the end is beautiful, then to tear it down like it never happened.”
Sophomore theatre major Chase Williams was the assistant stage manager for “Cabaret,” and said that although he is normally on stage, he decided to stay behind the scenes for this production. He said that being the assistant stage manager was a great opportunity to learn because he is interested in stage management. Williams said that he enjoyed having the opportunity to work with so many diverse people, not only from UIndy, but also the people that were hired in to help. He said he was able to witness the actors grow throughout the rehearsals; there was a large difference from the start of rehearsals compared to what was performed for the audience.
“There’s a lot of different pieces to this crazy big puzzle [the show] we put together and each rehearsal was kind of just the actor giving what they have,” Williams said. “Then, each time [rehearsal] the director’s adding one thing and each time everything pieced together a little bit by little bit. It’s just been so fun watching the actors.”
Sophomore psychology and pre-physical therapy assistant double major Phillip Moses performed for the first time at UIndy, playing multiple characters in “Cabaret.” He said he has always been interested in theater and was excited to get involved in “Cabaret.”
Moses said one of the hardest parts was making sure to stay in character while ushering.
“Every time I walked into Ransburg to do rehearsals, I did feel some type of pressure. But I did adjust to it eventually,” Moses said. “I’m glad that it did take me out of my comfort zone because I look at the theatre department a little bit different now that I have… more understanding of how things work.”
Moses said what he really appreciated is how the theatre majors went out of their way to make him feel welcome. He said that he will remember this experience of performing “Cabaret” forever, and that he is happy that he got involved.
“It’s been really cool to see everyone grow. We’ve had a lot of freshmen involved in this process. And as an upperclassman who’s transitioning out of collegiate theater now into professional and they’re transitioning from high school into college and all of these different worlds coming together,” Wagers said. “I like the exchange of knowledge that happens cause as upperclassmen, you have so much to hand down and to pass on to these younger ones… To be able to be a voice of support for them and to help guide them through that, I think that’s really nice.”