'Cabaret' hits the Janet Wallace main stage

By Tatiana Craine

Step on into the decadence and glamour of the Kit Kat Club where material desire and immoral excess reign supreme. The musical set in the Weimar era premieres at the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center Main Stage Theater on Nov. 5. Starring Morgen Chang ’11 as Sally Bowles and Willie Gambucci ’12 as the infamous Emcee, the show boasts a strong supporting cast also including Claire Bancroft ’11, John Bennett ’14, Laura Gerbi ’13, Elijah Bernstein-Cooper ’13 and Stephen Sporer among talented others. With a cast, orchestra, crew and production team that numbers nearly ninety people, the production has truly been a labor of love for those involved.

About the production process itself, Chang said “The show is the product of an incredible collaboration between the Theatre and Dance and Music Departments, in order to create a well-developed, fully-staged musical. This is a really big deal, because the two departments don’t often collaborate, and everyone in involved has worked together very well.”

Gambucci found inspiration for his role by watching other performances of the Emcee by seasoned actors including Joel Grey and Alan Cumming. He also did a lot of preparation regarding the kind of classic character he plays in the production-the trickster.

Gambucci said, “What I did research were tricksters. Characters-think Puck, Coyote and especially Eshu-from different cultures that oftentimes lead humans astray in order to teach them a larger lesson. The Emcee is essentially this-not so much a character in the narrative of the play, but more of a universal force of meaningful mischief. Or at least that’s the goal.”

Regarding the show’s message, Gambucci remarked “Wake up! Don’t fall into decadent ambivalence,” a theme still significantly relevant to modern audiences.

Chang continued, “One of the biggest challenges with this show is discovering what it felt like to be on the verge of an important political moment. It’s a place that none of us feel totally comfortable going into, but that’s also the advantage of theatre-to bring some of the lessons back from the past without all the consequences.”

The production, directed by Harry Waters Jr., promises a unique and high-caliber rendition of the iconic musical that has starred such luminaries as Liza Minelli, Amanda Palmer, Natasha Richardson and John Stamos. Also involved in the Macalester production are Dr. Eugene Rogers and Dr. Laura Nichols as vocal directors, conducting by Cary Franklin and choreography by guest artist and professional performer Sandy Agustin.

Tickets are $5 for students. Performances are at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5-6 and Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 11-13.