“Cabaret” performance wows at Winona State


Photo contributed by the THAD program. One of the most engaging parts of the show was the light production. Mae Mironer, senior, was in charge of the light production. “While I was writing the [lighting for the] show, I wanted to be able to convey the serious thematic tones that are prevalent throughout the play. I utilized color in order to do this,” Mironer said.

Heidi Hanson, Features Editor

From Wednesday, April 13-Saturday, April 16, the Winona State University Theatre and Dance Department performed four shows of the hit musical “Cabaret.” The musical, illustrating the environment of Berlin in the 1930s, featured a large cast and crew and elicited many audience reactions.

The 1972 musical revolves around Clifford Bradshaw (Nick Tentis) and his arrival in Berlin as a writer; after meeting cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Hannah Beumer), he falls in love with her. The remaining scenes revolve primarily around the Nazi party com- ing to power and the drastic change of the environment and atmosphere of Berlin from boisterous and lively to grim and corrupt.

Amelie Pflamminger, first-year psychology major and one of the Kit Kat girls in the show, commented on the power of politics historically and in the musical.

“People with different backgrounds from different countries, different religions and ethnicities are affected by what’s happening and how much they let politics affect themselves,” Pflamminger said.

The drastic change from the entertaining and fun feel of Berlin was very clearly seen from the changing of scenes throughout the show. Not only did the tones of the music change throughout, but the actors themselves gradually fell into the pit of despair that was Berlin in the 1930s. Arguably, one of the most engaging ways this change was demonstrated was through the light production.

Mae Mironer, the fourth-year student in charge of lightning design, did an exceptional job in leading the audience into the darker change of tone at the end of act one and throughout the entirety of act two. Everything from the angles to the colors of the lights were deliberately chosen to add to the environment of each scene.

“Having the contrast between a soft blue to represent the peace and the calm and the side of the Jews and contrast to the red tones of the cabaret and the Nazis was one of the forms and instances of color theory I used to help the audience understand what was going on,” Mironer said.

The use of creative lighting decisions made the musical engaging to the audience and also made uncomfortable scenes even more eerie. This hard work put in by the crew was reflected in the actors as well. Characterization is immensely important in “Cabaret” because of the historical importance and change in mood throughout both acts.

Jensen Drake, a first-year student who played Fraulein Kost in the show, elaborated on the sense of character each cast member has to integrate into their performances.

“The show has a lot of room for character choice,” Drake said. “There’s a lot of fun dancing and a lot of fun acting, and there’s a lot of character choices that I get to make that I’ve never made before in past productions.”

After two years of dealing with COVID-19 and seemingly out of the brunt of it, it seems to be a common choice for directors to want to put on a positive and lively production. However, choosing “Cabaret” after the political state of the past two years also has quite the merit.

“But our director [Heather William-Williams] chose this show specifically because of what’s going on all around the world,” Pflamminger said. “And that was like a specific choice she made to get people thinking about how politics around the world can affect them, even if they just feel like they’re a small, unimportant person.”

Winona State’s production of “Cabaret” made the audience laugh and gasp and changed the entire atmosphere of the Vivian Fusillo Theater. The work and dedication the cast and crew put into the show was very well reflected on stage through every twist, turn, inappropriate joke and dramatic realization. Although a difficult musical to watch and perform in, the emotional changes and character choices really made the audience think.

“I think ‘Cabaret’ taught the whole cast a lot about respecting the content of musicals,” Pflamminger said. “Even if you’re super familiar with the script and you’ve heard all of the scenes over and over again, there’s a need to constantly think about how meaningful it is.”