Scotch’n’Soda presents poignant Cabaret

The dancers at the Kit Kat Club provide a lighthearted and seductive musical interlude. (credit: Courtesy of Guillermo Gomez) The dancers at the Kit Kat Club provide a lighthearted and seductive musical interlude. (credit: Courtesy of Guillermo Gomez)

Carnival is usually an upbeat weekend, as students celebrate their days off from school and cheer on their classmates in Sweepstakes. Scotch’n’Soda brought a more serious note to Carnival this year, however, with its production of Cabaret. Cabaret focuses on the Kit Kat Club, a seedy cabaret club in Berlin, as the Nazis are rising to power. The play centers on the relationship between English cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Heinz College master’s student Shannon Deep) and American writer Clifford Bradshaw (junior music major Sean Pack).

The set was fairly sparse, with a balcony and staircases leading down on either side of the balcony and only a select number of furniture pieces that the crew added and removed from the stage as necessary. Around the edge of the stage were round tables with red tablecloths that audience members could sit at. During the scenes set at the Kit Kat Club, the seductive Kit Kat dancers would approach the edge of the stage and flirt with the audience members sitting at the tables, which helped to reinforce the nightclub atmosphere. The Kit Kat performers were all excellent dancers and stayed in character well; Chandler Patton, a first-year drama student, was particularly entertaining in the role of the young cabaret dancer Helga.

Deep was charming and did an excellent job of showing the complexities of Sally’s character; however, her singing voice, while lovely, lacked the power and depth necessary for the part. She and Pack, who played Clifford Bradshaw, had a great onstage chemistry, and Pack did an excellent job of portraying Cliff’s range of emotions.

Matt Zurcher, a sophomore humanities and arts major, played the Master of Ceremonies of the Kit Kat Club, and functioned as an omniscient storyteller throughout the show. Zurcher was a perfect mix of funny and creepy; he originally had the audience laughing with his eyebrow-waggling and over-the-top attitude, but became progressively more eerie and terrifying as the show progressed and the Nazis gained more power.

Cabaret also featured a romantic subplot involving Cliff’s landlady, Fraulein Schneider (played by junior music major Gillian Hassert), and one of her boarders, a Jewish fruit vendor named Herr Schultz (played by Alex DiClaudio, a master’s student in Heinz College). Their scenes together were tender and funny, particularly when they sang “It Couldn’t Please Me More,” about a pineapple that Herr Schultz gives Fraulein Schneider.

One problem with the show was the actors’ accents. Sally had an English accent, and the rest of the characters aside from Cliff had German accents; however, the actors’ accents were not always consistent, and often sounded more like caricatures of German or English accents, rather than sounding genuine.

Despite the inconsistencies with accents, Will Weiner and Dan Wetzel, a sophomore economics and decision sciences major and a CIT master’s student, respectively, directed the show. They put on a strong production, drawing the audience into the world of the Kit Kat Club while managing to be funny and poignant.