The Broadway Musical
Performances of Cabaret will be March 26-29, 2015.
Charlie Krebs loves to challenge his cast, his crew and definitely his audience.
Krebs, Lakeland College's associate professor of theatre and speech, puts great thought each year into which two productions the school will tackle. But this year, he may have outdone himself when it comes to plays of rich substance.
Lakeland's spring production of "Cabaret" opens on March 26 for the first of four consecutive performances. Show times are 7:30 p.m. March 26-28 and 2 p.m. for the Sunday matinee, March 29.
Cabaret, a musical set in 1930s Nazi-era Germany, contrasts joyous times in a nightclub with dangerous real-life struggles just outside it. The play is packed with singing and dancing, but acknowledges serious political undertones as well.
This production comes on the heels of Lakeland's fall presentation of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," which was about the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s.
"I think if we can use theatre as an educational instrument, an instrument of enlightenment in addition to entertainment, then we can teach as well," Krebs said of his two selections this academic year.
"As a professor, teaching is very important to me. There are political things that happen in our lives all the time and we have to deal with them. I think it's good for the students to see this. This play is a great instrument for education. It's good to do things that are a little edgy and push the envelope a bit."
Lakeland junior Katherine Zielsdorf, who plays a Kit Kat Club dancer and has been in five plays at Lakeland, thinks the subject matter helps make this one special.
"I think (the political angle) gives it a certain element of being real art, because it incorporates real-life problems and real-life situations and historical events into a fictional setting," she said. "I like that it's got that historical element to it."
There's plenty of song and dance, too. Lakeland's accompanying concert band will rehearse more than a dozen musical numbers with the cast for eight straight nights, a rarity. And the consensus of Lakeland's student-actors is that in terms of musicals, this will be one of the college's best productions in many years. The singing in particular, they said, will be top-notch.
"I think it's going to be wonderful, because everybody in the cast can sing really well," said Lakeland senior Brittany Beckman of Kiel, who plays Fraulein Kost, one of the dancers in the Kit Kat Club nightclub. "This year is going to be just fantastic … it really is a top-notch cast. I think (the audience) is going to think we're a professional company … they're going to think we're the best of the best."
Making her theatrical debut — at any level — is Lakeland senior Meribeth Mazzi, who plays the lead role of Sally Bowles. Mazzi, who loved watching "Annie" on TV as a child in her native Peru, challenged herself to audition as a way to step outside her comfort zone.
"Holy Cow can she sing," Krebs said. "When she came back on the second night for call-backs and started singing, this fairly petite young lady blew the hair back on everyone in the audition room."
Mazzi said she's had a blast working alongside the nearly 20 cast members during the weeks of rehearsal for this play.
"This is one of those flashy productions that brings a lot of entertainment and catchy music," she said. "The story does have a dramatic side to it. It's a combination of, ‘Wow, life is a Cabaret, old chum,' and (the darkness of) Nazi Germany. It's definitely a sweet and sour kind of production."
One of the things Krebs likes most about this production is the dramatic contrast between the nightclub scenes and the alley scenes — directed by student Tia Pribbernow. Between the singing and dancing scenes in the club are scenes that depict the dark side of what like was really like then.
"Cabaret is one of my favorite musicals, and I think it strikes a chord with a lot of people," said Krebs. "It's a fairly powerful story, and it has incredible music, but it has a lot of contrast. Inside the Cabaret, we have all kinds of wonderful nightclub activity, and big song-and-dance numbers. Outside, there is the rise of Nazi Germany. There's a lot of juxtaposition with all the happiness inside and the dread going on outside."
"It's a powerful play, and I think it gives the students here at Lakeland the opportunity to really shine with some beautiful singing and great acting."
Added Jake Juli Caceres, Lakeland's assistant professor of Spanish, who plays the nightclub emcee: "Everybody has been working really, really hard. There are going to be powerful voices for sure. I think it's going to be amazing. It's going to feel like a legit cabaret performance."
Cast Maxine – Tia Pribbernow; Emcee – Jake Juli Caceres; Kit Kat Girls – Ashlie Urban, Brittany Beckman, Elizabeth Hahn, Elizabeth Plotka, Katherine Zielsdorf, Kristen Brusky; Kit Kat Boys – Aaron Almedina, Tanner Moenning; Sally Bowles – Meribeth Mazzi; Cabaret patrons/Nazi soldiers – Aaron Almedina, AJ Veloz, Brett Gibbons, Deion Sonsalla, John Horst, Jody Harrison, Lucas Collard, Tanner Moenning, Clifford Bradshaw, Brandon Farmer, Ernst Ludwig, Zach Petrowsky; Fraulein Schneider – Heather Ross; Fraulein Kost – Brittany Beckman; Herr Schultz – David Neese; Two ladies – Katherine Zielsdorf; Kristen Brusky; Gorilla – Tia Pribbernow
Director – Charlie Krebs; Vocal director – Lisa Golde; Choreographer – Jessica Mueller; Orchestra conductor – Christopher Werner; Costume designer – Della Jahnke; Assistant director – Tia Pribbernow; Stage manager – Mayce Bacon; Lighting director – Brady Bunjovac; Master carpenter – Luke Runge; Dance captain – Holly Helmer