by Mattie Hanson
MSUM faculty and students have teamed up with other actors from the community for Music Theatre Fargo Moorhead’s upcoming production. They’ve been exploring the German social climate of the 1930s in preparation for performances of Joe Masteroff’s musical, “Cabaret.”
The story takes place in the 1930s before World War II. A man named Clifford Bradshaw, played by Justin Barnum, just finished school and decides to travels to Berlin in search of inspiration. He meets Sally Bowles, played by Kathy Hanson, who is a night performer at the Kit-Kat-Klub.
Questioning his sexuality, Bradshaw begins a romance with Bowles, but also has eyes for playboy Max, played by Keith Schweigert. In contrast, Herr Schultz, played by Steve Poitras, is falling in love with Sally and Clifford’s landlady, played by Pam Strait. As these romances are blooming, the Nazi party is rising to power.
Strait will be performing with MTFM for the first time playing Fräulein Schneider. She said the company is terrific and professional, adding, “Musical theater is all these people do.”
Strait is excited for the audience to see the dance numbers choreographed by MSUM professor Craig Ellingson, who will be playing The Master of Ceremonies.
Director, Daniel Damico, said despite the cast of fewer than 20 people, they are all positive and supportive of each other.
“The cast and crew are putting in a ton of time to make this show amazing,” he said.
The most difficult part of “Cabaret” is that the cast has to speak in a German dialect, along with singing vocally challenging songs and performing elaborate dance routines.
Damico wants the story of “Cabaret” to be realistic and show how people lived in Berlin before WWII. The show has been done in a variety of ways but Damico said he knew how he wanted MTFM to show it.
“It’s been done in more cheery ways that avoid some of the darkness,” he said. “We are hitting on the gray area.”
Damico said he wants the audience to see the good and bad in the characters and culture of the 1930s.
MSUM junior Caleb Reich is playing a Kit-Kat-Klub performer. He said “Cabaret” has a special place in his heart.
“I saw MSUM do “Cabaret” in 2011 and it hit me like a brick,” Reich said. “It was like I was sleeping through my life and there were things going on and I just wasn’t paying attention.”
Reich said it has an important message about inequality — something that still stands today.
Reich and MSUM junior Carly Cressman, who is the stage manager, agree that “Cabaret” is not a complete escape from reality.
“No one talks about what happened before WWII,” Cressman said. “The story of ‘Cabaret’ is like historical fiction because these characters were prime for concentration camps.”
She said some students can relate to Bradshaw’s character since he is questioning his sexuality, has finished school and wants to explore the world.
Strait, Reich and Cressman agree it will be an amazing show that students will enjoy with friends. Damico adds, “It will be tough not to leave being moved, knowing where the story ends.”
The show runs Oct. 15 – 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 22 – 24 at 7:30 p.m. The show will also hold matinees Oct. 18 and 25 at 2 p.m. The Stage at Island Park is located on 333 Fourth Street South in Fargo.
Thursday night’s show is $7 for MSUM students who show their ID. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students at thestageatislandpark.org.