Eric Warner Staff Writer
On Oct. 18, 2018, the Performing Arts Department and Eastern’s Drama Society premiered their production of “Cabaret,” a musical created by Joe Masteroff, play by John Van Druten, and story by Christopher Isherwood. “Cabaret” is a story of love, bliss, friendship, and heartbreak. The musical takes place in a post-World War I Germany, focusing on an American novelist, Cliff Bradshaw, as he travels across Europe to find a story to write about.
During his adventure, he finds the Kit Kat Klub and the interesting people surrounding it. The Kit Kat Klub serves as a metaphor for the sexuality of the populace with the Emcee, played brilliantly by Jake Buckley, often emphasizing that everyone is welcomed at the club and that while you are there all of your troubles will disappear. People of all identities and genders are welcomed at the club, even Cliff Bradshaw, who is bisexual.
The two acts of “Cabaret” are very different from one another, but perhaps that is a way to show how suddenly the Nazi regime took over Germany. The first act is very positive, displaying multiple characters falling in love and basically having the time of their lives. Bradshaw finds love in the eventfully blinded and scandalous Sally Cowles and they even start a family. Frauline Schneider, Bradshaw’s boarding house room owner, falls in love as well to the comedic and endlessly caring Herr Schultz, a fruit stand owner. Perhaps one of the best scenes in the play is when Schneider and Schultz convey their love for one another by signing a beautiful song about a pineapple.
All of this cheerfulness quickly comes to an end, however, when Bradshaw’s friend, Earnst Ludwig, reveals himself to be a Nazi and makes his opinion towards Schultz, whom is a German Jew, known to everyone. In a striking display of the party’s horrifying takeover, the wedding party begins to sing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” as all of the lights on stage slowing turn into an ominous red hue, ending the first act.
The second act shows Schultz being bullied by the increasingly violent populace, having his heart broken by his beloved, and hoping that life will get better as it usually would in times of crisis. Bradshaw’s life also makes a turn for the worst when he is beaten for confronting the ideals of the Nazis. He also discovers later, in a very cold fashion, that Cowles has gotten an abortion and has left Bradshaw for her old flame. Scared and heartbroken, Bradshaw leaves for Paris knowing at last what he should write his novel about.
The cast, crew, and orchestra all performed phenomenally. The
choreography was fantastic, the singing was breathtaking, and the acting was truly captivating. Two performances in particular stood out the most in my opinion, those being Jake Buckley as the Emcee and Christian Fronkowiak as Herr Schultz. Jake Buckley was seemingly born for the role of the
Emcee and along with his fellow dancers, they really brought the Kit Kat Klub to life. On the other hand, Christian Fronkowiak brought more of the normal life of a German Jew to reality. Schultz’s character was acted so well that he made me laugh when he stumbled, made everyone in the theater happy when he was on stage and sad when we saw his life slowly fall apart as his world turned against him. I applaud these actors!
“Cabaret” is a very tragic play that touches on themes that are, as the director Nichola Johnson states, “locked in the same struggles for acceptance and human rights, newly made acute by waves of populism taking hold all over the world.” This is truly a fantastic production and I hope the next show, “Pluto,” will be as impactful.