Preview: FDU’s theater chooses a musical with a message
The rehearsals for FDU’s spring musical are well underway. This semester, the theater department will be putting on “Cabaret.”
“‘Cabaret’ is an incredibly real and timeless story about Berlin in the late 1930s,” said Morgan Prytherch, who plays Sally Bowles, a main character of the musical.
The musical is set right before Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, during a more lighthearted time. Pamela Shapiro, the understudy for Sally and part of the ensemble, explained that the show is centered around the Kit Kat Klub, a “seedy club,” and the relationship between Sally and Cliff Bradshaw, played by Dennis Summerville.
“As the story progresses, Germany’s party loving society fades away and fascism slowly moves in and we see how these people’s lives are affected,” said Andrew Wood, who plays the Master of Ceremonies (Emcee).
Savannah Lloyd is one of the assistant stage managers for this production. She and the three actors all agreed that this musical was chosen because of its underlying themes.
“I think the FDU theater department chose this musical because it addresses political and social themes that are extremely relevant, especially with the current election season underway,” she explained. “The characters in this story experience prejudice, intolerance, oppression and the fear that accompanies uncertainty of the future.”
Though the themes of the show can bring up some real issues, the show itself is meant to unveil the themes in a fun, carefree way. Not everyone in this musical is dealing with the issues in their lives the same way.
“‘Cabaret’ showcases the different mentalities that existed during this time period,” Shapiro said.
Wood’s role of Emcee is the comic relief for the show. He described his character as the one who “embraces” the desires of every human: money and sex.
“The Emcee represents all people if they were unrestrained and unapologetic with their desires,” Wood said. “Is he a good person? Definitely not, but you can’t help but like the guy because he’s so confident and knows how to have fun better than anyone.”
Wood said he is honored to play the character that sits “above all the pain and sorrow” the other characters in the show experience. “[He has] fun no matter what,” Wood said about his character. “[He doesn’t] care about anything else, which is very much relevant to the show’s message.”
Prytherch’s character also looks at life in a more positive way. Sally is a performer at the Kit Kat Klub.
“She wants to enjoy her youth and live a life of excitement that will eventually lead to Hollywood level fame,” Prytherch said about Sally. “I would have loved to have lived in Berlin at the time [when] everything was so exciting and new and there were parties every night.”
Stephen Hollis is the director of “Cabaret” and “has expressed a clear production concept, rooted in the history of a transitioning Germany,” Lloyd explained.
The actors noted that Hollis has helped them learn more about their characters.
“He’s helped me see so many things about Sally and the fantastic, imaginary world she lives in,” said Prytherch.
Wood said that Hollis helped him find a direction for his character.
“It’s very easy to simply copy what others have done before, but Stephen is helping me choose my own direction with my portrayal of the character,” Wood explained.
About the process of crafting a character, Wood said, “It’s a combination of adhering to what the director wishes, while acting on your own instincts… I am very excited to continue developing the role.”
Since “Cabaret” is a musical, it includes a wide array of fun, entertaining music numbers. “Perfectly Marvelous” is Prytherch’s favorite number. “It’s when you really see the two main characters start falling for each other,” she explained, “and it’s such an important song for their character development.”
Lloyd enjoys the opening number “Wilkommen,” because “it draws the audience in and showcases the immense talent of our department.”
Through its upbeat numbers and witty characters, “Cabaret” still has underlying messages for its audience.
“I hope audiences walk away with a greater appreciation for our freedoms and I hope they enjoy the show,” Shapiro said.
Prytherch also weighed in on the evident themes in the show. She said, “Life is short, and life is scary, and ‘Cabaret’ portrays that message perfectly.”
Performances of “Cabaret” will be April 29 through May 1 and May 4 through May 8 at the Dreyfuss Theater.