As the third production of the year, the Ohio University Division of Theater will present “Cabaret.” PIctured here is Kezia Waters as the Emcee performing “The Money Song.” (WOUB Public Media/Rachael Beardsley)

OU Division of Theater Opens ‘Cabaret’ Nov. 29

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Ohio University Theater Division’s third production of the year is a classic play that embraces indifference in an effort to show viewers the dangers of an apathetic culture.

Cabaret follows the story of Cliff Bradshaw, and American writer who arrives in 1930s Berlin to work on his next novel. Instead, he gets pulled into the thriving scene of Berlin nightlife at the Kit Kat Klub, a place that offers party-goers the indulgence and unprecedented sexual freedom of Germany’s short-lived Weimar Republic. But among his circle of friends, Cliff is the first, and only, to realize the party is quickly coming to an end as the Nazis rise to power.

“The story is ultimately about when good people don’t know what to do in the face of rising hatred and division,” says Anne McAlexander, director and MFA candidate. “…What happens when there is group indifference to other people’s suffering and social injustices and people turning a blind eye.”

A photo taken during press night for “Cabaret.” Pictured here is Jackson Savage as Cliff Bradshaw. (WOUB Public Media/Rachael Beardsley)

A note in the playbill explains how Cabaret forces us to examine the darker parts of human nature behind the show’s carefree exterior. Hatred, it says, is cementing itself into American culture as far as the highest levels of government, with politicians using “fear-based, divisive and de-humanizing language” to gain power. Though Cabaret focuses on the injustices of the past, it also forces us to take a look in the mirror.

Kezia Waters, a first year MFA student who plays the Emcee, says the production offered him a chance to take on one of his dream roles. He also saw it as a way to bring a level of “color-consciousness” into the show.

“Personally, I’ve never seen an African American tackle this role because of the nature of the show and being that you’re in Germany; we don’t hear a lot about Afro Germans at that time,” Waters said. “I’m big about bringing color-consciousness to this role and not color-blindness. I knew with the nature of OU’s program being very inclusive… that if there was any place I would play a character like the Emcee, it would be here.”

A photo taken during the press night for “Cabaret.” Pictured here is Elizabeth Hendricks as Sally Bowles performing “Don’t Tell Mama” with the Kit Kat girls. (WOUB Public Media/Rachael Beardsley)

This production of Cabaret comes on the heels of the show’s national broadway tour, which Ohio University hosted last year. But McAlexander says she had no problem bringing the play to OU again. The production didn’t come without challenges, though. The theater division has not done a musical in three years, so establishing a connection with the school of music and getting the theater equipped to deal with a large musical was difficult at times, but rewarding, McAlexander said.

“There have been a lot of challenges along the way that I didn’t expect, but they’ve all made the experience richer and better,” she said. “… I think we’ve done a good job.”

Ultimately, Cabaret presents a message about apathy and mass indifference that McAlexander says is important for viewers to see today.

“I think it is particularly valuable now because I think it doesn’t matter what you’re political leanings are, it’s very clear that we’re divided, it’s very clear that there’s a lot of us versus them and a lot of rising hatred, or at least that’s the way it feels,” she said. “It just felt particularly timely.”

Cabaret will run from November 29 to December 1 and December 4 through December 8 at 8 p.m. in the Forum theater at the RTVC building. There will also be a matinee performance on December 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are free for Ohio University students and $7 for all other students and seniors. General Admission is $10. In addition, Alden library is presenting an exhibit that looks at the wider historical context of the show.