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Students tackle importance of political awareness during performances of "Cabaret"

  • Members of the Cabaret cast
  • Lindsey Normington as Sally Bowles and Parker Ykimoff as Cliff Bradshaw.

Posted on November 09, 2017

In Berlin, Germany, in 1930, three years before Adolf Hitler came to power, Cliff, an American novelist, is searching for inspiration when he finds lodging at Frau Schneider’s boarding house above the notorious and racy Kit Kat Club. Led by a saucy Emcee and Sally Bowles, a sassy showgirl and British singer, the free-wheeling performers at the club turn Cliff’s world upside down while the power of the Nazi party lurks just beyond the club's doors. 

This is the plot of “Cabaret," which Grand Valley students will perform November 16-18, 29 and 30, and December 1-2 at 7:30 p.m., and November 19 and December 3 at 2 p.m. All performances will take place in the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre, located in the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts. 

“These characters are focused on having a good time and living in an environment that is free and liberated, but what they fail to realize, or refuse to realize, is that a change in German politics is allowing the Nazi party to come to power,” said Dennis Henry, director and visiting professor of theater. “‘Cabaret' is a warning about the need for everyone to know what is going on in politics in order to prevent the rise of evil.”

Lindsey Normington, a senior majoring in communication studies who plays Sally Bowles, said that portraying her character's denial has been her biggest hurdle during rehearsals. 

"I'm the type of person who is generally very concerned when I feel like I see someone being treated unfairly," she said. "Sally gives off a happy-go-lucky vibe, but she is more interested deep down in protecting herself over others."

“Cabaret” marks the first theater performance to take place in the new Keller Theatre, and Henry said the production will take full advantage of the black box theater’s capacity to provide flexible staging and audience seating formations.

“For this first production, we are arranging the seats in an ‘arena’ configuration, with the audience on all four sides of the playing space,” he said. “Since much of the play takes place in the Kit Kat Club, this arrangement will give the audience the feeling of being in the club with the performers, and there will even be some limited table seating on the edges of the stage itself.”

While the themes of “Cabaret” are serious in nature, Henry said the play itself is light-hearted.

“The songs are classics that will stick in your head and the characters of Sally and the emcee are some of the most popular and memorable characters of the American theater cannon,” he explained.

Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and Grand Valley alumni, faculty and staff, and $6 for students and groups. To purchase tickets, contact the Louis Armstrong Theatre Box Office at (616) 331-2300 or visit