Theatre Club Sends a Message With Musical “Cabaret”

After the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh by a neo-Nazi, the University of New Haven theater department saw an opportunity to speak up.

Bucknall Theater hosted the opening of the theater department’s performance of “Cabaret” on Wednesday. The show takes place in a small Berlin nightclub during the Nazi occupation, and shows how “the hateful politics of the time begins to encroach on, and endanger” the lives of the club’s inhabitants, said director Jonathan Yukich.

“Hate crimes are up all over our country, and FBI statistics released just this week showed that anti-Semitic hate crimes specifically were up 37 percent this year,” said Yukich. “That’s terrifying, and we have to be aware what is happening around us.”

In fact, according to the FBI’s hate crime statistics, the number of anti-Jewish offenses went from 834 in 2016 to 976 in 2017, marking a substantial rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

“The show has remained incredibly relevant since its premiere in the 1960s,” said senior theater arts major and lead male in “Cabaret,” Michael Kennedy. “It is so easy to turn a blind eye to the horrible things going on in the world around us simply because we do not believe that they are affecting us directly.”

While preparing for the show, Kennedy said that “everyone has put in countless hours of work on all aspects of the production.” Those hours, however, have “paid off” in what Kennedy sees as perhaps “the best production to grace the university’s stage” during his time here.

“It’s a big show in almost every way. Big cast, big set, big costumes, big lights, big music,” said Yukich, who has directed a show every semester in his six years at the university. “Bringing all of that together is very challenging. Seeing all of that come together is a huge part of the process.”

The process has certainly taken a toll on all of those who are involved, with Kennedy saying “I do not sleep nearly as much as I should.”

“Those of us involved in these productions deserve the same treatment that student athletes get,” he said. “Theater is just as time consuming, and just as draining, as playing a sport.”

The university’s performance of “Cabaret” was dedicated to the victims in the Pittsburgh shooting.

“We feel that this musical, its central message, is more timely than ever,” said Yukich.