Together, the University of Nevada, Reno’s Department of Theater and Dance, and Department of Music present “Cabaret,” a daring musical set in bohemian Berlin as Germany caves in to the nascent Third Reich.
Originally produced in 1966 and then made iconic by choreographer Bob Fosse and performer Liza Minelli in the Oscar-winning film version (1972), “Cabaret” continues to provoke audiences with its brazen sexuality and direct portrayal of Nazi Germany.
With a cast of 18 talented university students, this version of “Cabaret” is steeped in the historical reality of the musical, celebrating the deviant desires of 1930s Berlin sex clubs as hateful politics gain traction. Led by university faculty, Yassi Jahanmir (director), Nate Hodges (choreographer) and Aren Long (music director), this will be a unique take on ‘cabaret’, challenging in terms of bold performance and do-it-yourself aesthetics based on the styles of Weimar Berlin and Brechtian alienation.
“Although cabaret is deeply rooted in its historical moment, it continues to offer glimpses into the darkest corners of our societies,” said Jahanmir. “As a historian by training, I was very interested in exploring the inappropriateness of the art and politics of the time. The entire team worked valiantly to find an outspoken style that challenges audiences to see cabaret in new ways. I was fortunate to work with staff who were also interested in not shying away from the less beautiful parts of the musical.”
“When we started, I made it very clear that I wanted to try and make every dance number feel against Fosse,” Hodges said. “Not because the work isn’t great, but because it’s so iconic. Our cabaret is a deeply collaborative process and I wanted to create a work based on the ideas of Yassi and Aren. I was inspired by the somberness of the clubs and the clash between the pre-WWII movement, with all its ostentatious brashness and class mixed with the provocative movement of today’s world.”
“The tradition of cabaret music is rooted in both showmanship and underground experimentation, so it made sense to deconstruct the music and approach it in a unique way that both fits the aesthetic demands of the production and showcases the talent of the students.” said Long. “To realize this vision, I took the full orchestral scores and reduced them to their functional harmonies for an improvised jazz duo. These types of projects stem from frequent collaboration between team members, a “do-it-yourself” robustness that leaves room for individuality, and an unrelenting dedication to the overall aesthetic.”
The musical will be performed on February 24 and 25 and March 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. and on February 26 and March 5 at 2:30 p.m. in the Studio Theater in the building of the Church of Fine Arts on the university campus , there will be a 20-minute talkback following the show on February 25th. The musical is recommended for ages 13 and up, as some material may not be suitable for young children.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for seniors, non-UNR students, faculty and university staff, and $5 for university students with ID. Advance tickets are available online or at the CFA box office one hour before the show.