Flamboyantly fitting: Riverland theatre kicks off season with ‘Cabaret’

Published 11:09 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Riverland Community College Theatre Director Lindsey Duoos Williams has wanted to bring “Cabaret” to the Frank W. Bridges Theatre stage since she started in Austin, and the time is finally right.

With the pivitol Nov. 8, 2016, election about a month away, Williams said it seemed like a fitting time to stage “Cabaret,” which focuses on a group of people who ignore political issues at the Kit Kat Klub in the buildup to World War II

“It felt like a really good time to revisit the show,” said Williams, who directs and choreographs the play.

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To Williams, the play serves as a strong reminder to be engaged in the democratic process and to learn about what’s happening with the election because you may regret turning a blind eye.

“Those things really do make a difference,” she said.

Will Arndt, playing the emcee, is surrounded by the girls of the Kit Kat Klub during the opening scene of the Riverland Theatre production of “Caberet,” at rehearsel Tuesday night. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Will Arndt, playing the emcee, is surrounded by the girls of the Kit Kat Klub during the opening scene of the Riverland Theatre production of “Caberet,” at rehearsel Tuesday night. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“Cabaret” runs at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5-8 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 9 with tickets for $16.

The play takes place in 1929 as American writer Clifford Bradshaw arrives in Berlin and at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, where he meets British singer Sally Bowles and the two pursue escapist pleasures together. But as life in pre-World War II Germany grows more and more uncertain, they must balance the allure of Berlin nightlife with what’s happening around them.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of “Cabaret” opening on Broadway, but Williams noted the themes, messages and characters in the play are still moving and entertaining.

“It doesn’t feel 50 years old; it still feels very fresh,” Williams said.

This recent revision of the classic Broadway musical is eerily timely today, according to Williams, who noted the play features adult themes and strong language. “Cabaret” is suggested for ages 14 and up.

“This felt like the perfect time to perform ‘Cabaret,’” Williams said in a press release. “In this election season, we’ve seen our nation’s politics turned into entertainment for the masses. ‘Cabaret’ confronts this same idea, but set in the years leading up to World War II during Hitler’s rise to power. I think the show is still relevant today because it reminds us that we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in the world around us. We have to educate ourselves and engage with our nation’s politics, because if we don’t there can be disastrous consequences.”

Williams praised the “Cabaret” crew working behind the scenes as one of the best she’s had in her tenure at Riverland.

“We have a really excellent crew for this show,” she said.

“We could not do this show without any one of them,” she added.

Stage manager Gabriel Cardiff has served as a great boss running shows, and Williams said a crew that hits its sports with lighting, props and sound make the performance all the more professional and it helps the cast too.

“Then they can make the actors’ job easy,” she said.

Williams also praised her cast for their skill in bringing to life a challenging play. As a musical, “Cabaret” requires the cast to act, sing and dance.

“The actors have to be really versatile,” she said.

However, Williams called “Cabaret” unique in that it features many dramatic scenes, which calls for a lot range from the actors.

“Our cast has really risen to the challenge,” Williams said.


“Cabaret” has been revived on Broadway three times since, with the last two featuring revisions to incorporate songs from the Academy Award-winning 1972 film starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey. Riverland will perform the most recent version of the show, which originally starred Alan Cumming as the Emcee.

She described it as a bit darker and grittier than earlier versions.

“But I think audiences who are already familiar with the show will enjoy the impact this version makes,” she said in a press release.

While she described “Cabaret” as strongly PG-13, Williams urged people to look up material and reasoning. She said the plays themes are done for a purpose and use language and adult themes for a purpose, not just to offend.

“Cabaret” has a book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.

Individual tickets to “Cabaret” are $16 and currently on sale at www.riverland.edu/tickets 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The online ticketing system allows customers to choose their seats and pay by Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. Tickets may also be purchased at the Riverland Box Office, located in room E107 in the East Building of the Austin campus. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and one hour before performances. Riverland students receive two free tickets to each performance with a valid student ID. Contact the box office at 507-433-0595 or by emailing boxoffice@riverland.edu.

Riverland’s next show, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” will be performed Nov. 16-20, and will be directed by faculty member Susan V. Hansen. Then the spring season starts off Feb. 22-26 with a relatively unknown title, “The Language Archive,” before closing with the musical “Seussical,” which will play in two sections Apr. 21-23 and Apr. 27-30.