Life is a “Cabaret” at SUNY Cortland

Life is a “Cabaret” at SUNY Cortland

03/20/2023 

SUNY Cortland’s Performing Arts Department bids you willkommen, and invites you to share in the experience of one of Broadway’s all-time popular musicals: “Cabaret.” 

Set at the Kit Kat Klub nightclub in Berlin, it portrays the last gasp of democratic Germany in 1929-30 as the Nazi Party rises to power. All performances will take place at the Lab Theatre in the Dowd Fine Arts Center, with showtimes scheduled for: 

  • Friday, March 24 — 7:30 p.m. 
  • Saturday, March 25 — 7:30 p.m. 
  • Sunday, March 26 — 2 p.m. 
  • Friday, March 31 —7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 1 — 2 and 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 2 — 2 p.m. 
    Cabaret-1.jpg
    The SUNY Cortland cast of "Cabaret" rehearses.

    “Cabaret” debuted in 1966, and is still viewed as a groundbreaking, powerful show more than a half century after its premiere. There is no one secret to its success, says director Deena Conley, chair of the Performing Arts Department, but the musical’s ability to entertain while tackling a sinister topic is part of its enduring appeal.  

    “Works of art remain in the canon because they typically contain themes and evoke feelings that are timeless,” Conley said. “Hate of those we don’t understand, targeting others to assume blame for personal or global problems, and finding beauty and love within the worst of circumstances are all topics that we still see in our society today.” 

    Conley describes “Cabaret” as a “gut punch” as laughs, songs and dance intertwine with one of the darkest chapters of history. To see the relevance of it today, Conley says you only need to check the news to see the ongoing struggle against dictators and authoritarians. 

    It’s an idea shared by Harry Sperduto, the sophomore musical theatre major from Glen Gardner, New Jersey, playing Cliff, an American writer who watches as fascism transforms Germany. 

    “I’m very excited for ‘Cabaret’ because the cast and crew have worked so hard to make this show look and sound as good as it does,” he said. “It portrays events and issues that are still relevant to our current world, so it’s important to tell this story.” 

    As part of the retelling, Cortland aims to bring its own influence to the Tony-winning show. 

    Cabaret-3.jpg
    A scene from "Cabaret"

    “This is one of my top three favorite musicals, so the pressure for me is from within,” Conley said. “I can't worry about other people’s thoughts about my interpretation, I must tell the story in the way that I perceive it. I can’t speak for the cast and creative team, but I think the excitement of bringing these characters to life outweighs the fear.” 

    One of the main decisions made for the production was the choice of the Lab Theatre over Dowd Fine Arts Center Theatre. Conley and set designer Scott Holdredge agreed that many “Cabaret” productions have sets too “clean” for the nature of the script and that the Lab Theatre would more easily convey the feel they wanted.  

    “We have set the space up so that there are some tables on the stage,” Conley said. “Those who sit there are even more immersed in the world than those who opt to sit on the risers. The actors will interact with those at the tables, so if you’re interested in that experience, be early because seating in the Lab is general admission.” 

    Seating can be purchased online through SUNY Cortland’s Ticket Office. 


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