Arts and Entertainment

Go down the rabbit hole with Alice in Cabaret

By Sandy Shen and Bianca Ho
Published: March 2009

Cast members of South Stage’s Cabaret graced the stage of the lab theater March 19-21 with their unique self-written production, by seniors Alex Caron and Valerie Coimbra. Intended as a spin-off of Alice in Wonderland, the show included characters that belted out every kind of song from excerpts of musicals such as Nunsense to Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name. Two days before opening night, the tickets had already been sold out, and people were waiting in quiet anticipation for the promising production.

Producing Cabaret this year was no easy feat. Budget cuts to the South Stage program made it harder for shows to be produced with the same kind of flash as last year’s Peter Pan. Even without extravagant flying machines, however, Cabaret captured the audience’s attention and produced images they will never forget.

Memorable scenes occurred at every turn, all the way to the finish. Comedic characters such as Sunshine, played by sophomore Ellie Crowley, and Shadow, played by freshman Charlotte Cohen, brought on rolls of laughter to everyone in the room. Singer after singer dazzled viewers with their spectacular voices and incredible sound.

In past years, Cabaret has been directed and run by staff and faculty of South. This year, it was entirely student-run by Caron and Coimbra. Also, instead of following past patterns of creating a series of disconnected musical excerpts, this production was the first cabaret to actually include a real plot line that joined everything together.

Their unique script consisting of allusions to Alice in Wonderland and references to common south affairs made a familiar setting for the audience to connect with. The self-deprecating humor directed toward its own scriptwriters made the show even more hilarious. The show also consisted of original and creative humor, including one scene, which included some stage crew techies, senior Gaul Porat and sophomore Max Nathanson, singing and dancing along with the cast members, and another where sophomore Melanie Rucinski, piano accompanist and assistant musical director, repeatedly got her boa stolen by competitive auditioners.

The show began with a few uncertainties, starting off as a vague, umbrella concept conceived during mornings in Chemistry class by Caron and Coimbra, and then began to focus on Alice in Wonderland’€this conclusion was finally reached after many unsuccessful attempts.

“Some of [the rehearsals] were a little rough, but we definitely pulled it together, Rucinski said.
On a snow day, when a badly needed rehearsal would have been canceled, many dedicated cast members simply met at Caron’s house for an extra rehearsal; from the final product, you’d never be able to tell that there were any tough rehearsals. Everything went smoothly, and the show was virtually seamless.

The choreography, done by senior Juli Spier, was riveting and innovative, and the acting convincing and, at times, moving and sentimental. The music was well chosen, and appealed to a wide variety of tastes. The twisting plot, as random as it may have been, made the show that much more interesting to watch, and the audience responded positively. “Cabaret was out there, but was amusing and very funny, freshman Jake Abramson said.

The story follows the confusing and seemingly unrelated adventures of Alice, an adolescent girl played by sophomore Tanya Lyon. At the beginning, Alice finds herself in a situation not so unfamiliar to the audience: she catches her boyfriend Freddie, played by sophomore Gabe Goodman, “canoodling another girl.

Her aunt, played by senior Lily Simon, encourages her to “not take any of his shenanigans. Alice confronts Freddie and the two break into a rousing musical number “Cry For Me by Jersey Boys.

Unlike the original book, this performance did not include the fantastical, crazy creatures, but rather modern, realistic versions of the bunny, the mad hatter, and the caterpillar. The bunny is a Jack-Johnson-guitar-playing bunny, the mad hatter is a step mom, and the caterpillar is a bubble-blowing caterpillar.

Alice’s journey brings her to explore the soulful depths of the people around her, and to answer the pressing question: “WHO are you?

She talks to her father, a street corner who answers the question “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

“The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

The show ends with an inspiring, shiver-inducing number, in which all 18 members of the cast dance and sing in breathtaking unison to the appropriately chosen, “He Lives In You from the Lion King.

In the end Alice finally learns to be comfortable with herself, while instilling introspection in the audience. The show was exciting through out, and brought a wonderful close to the journey everyone embarked on.

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