KU’s student production of Cabaret is perfectly marvelous

Tomorrow belongs to Olly G. Mitchell and Katherine Leverenz couldn't please me more.
Cabaret 8820

Photos by Luke Jordan

Willkommen, bienvenue, and welcome to the University of Kansas’ Department of Theatre & Dance’s production of Cabaret. Even though the Sunday matinee concluded the production’s run, it was a stellar show to end on. 

For those not familiar with the 1966 musical by Joe Masteroff, we’ll give you a quick rundown. Set in 1930s Berlin, Germany, we’re introduced to a grimy yet invigorating cabaret with an Emcee/Master of Ceremonies taking the helm to walk us through the club and introduce key players.

Next, we meet Cliff Bradshaw, an aspiring American author who’s moved to the city to pursue his work. Through the trials of moving to a new city and obtaining housing, Cliff soon meets English performer semi-extraordinaire, Sally Bowles, the two start cohabitating, and their relationship blossoms from there. There are obviously more main players involved and monumental moments, but you can find a more detailed synopsis here

Cabaret 9443

Photos by Luke Jordan

Showings of the production ran from April 20-23, and again April 25-30, and were hosted on Stage Too! of the Crafton-Preyer Theatre on the KU campus. The stage setting was quaint, with a main two-tiered circular platform that evoked Globe Theatre thoughts. The set wafted up to the ceiling with a double-sided staircase that provided more visual diversity. Audience members sat floor level and up through risers, with overflow seating trickling onto the balcony. The air was intimate—drawing captivation with the close quarters. 

Cabaret 9717

Photos by Luke Jordan

The show’s most consistent and perpetually stunning performance belonged to Olly G. Mitchell, assuming the role of Emcee/Master of Ceremonies. From Mitchell’s phonograph-esque vocals paired with an enthralling—yet arguably demented—demeanor every time their mic went hot, the audience was lulled into effervescent moments that transcended the rest of the musical roster. In short, Mitchell was an unadulterated pleasure to watch on stage, and we hope they prevail in their next role. 

Katherine Leverenz, who played Sally Bowles, also delivered a generous take on her character. Full of pep, yet not scared to delve into a moving rendition of “Maybe This Time,” which comprised its own level of respite from the musical’s plot. With her commitment and obvious love for her character, Leverenz also swept away any notion that acting wasn’t a basic instinct. 

Cabaret 8648

Photos by Luke Jordan

The performance was aided by a barrage of dancers and students who reinforced the notion of the musical’s setting and added their interpretations to its message. 

This production was also accompanied by a live orchestra, to which we say a heaping “Bravo” for the players involved. Spearheaded by KU’s Ryan McCall, the musical aspect was never lacking poise, intention, and an impressive rank of professionalism that can be hard to obtain at the collegiate level.  

Categories: Theater