Together, the University of Nevada, Reno’s Department of Theatre and Dance and Department of Music present “Cabaret,” a daring musical set in Bohemian Berlin as Germany yields to the emerging Third Reich.
Originally produced in 1966 and then made iconic by choreographer Bob Fosse and performer Liza Minelli in the Oscar-winning filmed version (1972), “Cabaret” continues to provoke audiences with its brazen sexuality and direct depiction of Nazi Germany.
Featuring a cast of 18 talented University students, this version of “Cabaret” is steeped in the historical reality of the musical, celebrating the deviant desire in 1930s Berlin sex clubs as hateful politics grow in influence. Helmed by University faculty, Yassi Jahanmir (director), Nate Hodges (choreographer) and Aren Long (music director), this will be a unique take on “Cabaret,” leaning into the styles of Weimar Berlin in terms of audacious performance, DIY aesthetics and Brechtian alienation.
“In spite of being deeply entrenched in its historical moment, Cabaret continues to offer insight into the darkest recesses of our societies,” Jahanmir said. “Trained as a historian, I was deeply interested in exploring the impropriety of the arts and politics of the era. The entire team bravely worked to find an in-your-face style that will challenge the audience to see Cabaret anew. I was very lucky to work with collaborators who were also interested in not shying away from the less-pretty parts of the musical.”
“When we started, I made it very clear that I wanted to try and make every dance number feel anti-Fosse,” Hodges said. “Not because the work isn’t great, but because it’s so iconic. Our Cabaret is a deeply collaborative process and I wanted to create work that originated in the ideas that Yassi and Aren were throwing out there. I was inspired by the grittiness of the clubs and the exploration between the movement of pre-World War II with all its showy sass and class mixed with the provocative movement from today’s world.”
“The tradition of Cabaret music is rooted in both showmanship and underground experimentation, so it made sense to deconstruct the music and approach it in a unique way that both fit the aesthetic needs of the production and showcased the talent of the students,” Long said. “To achieve this vision, I took the full orchestral scores and reduce them down to their functional harmonies for an improvised jazz duo. These types of projects rely on frequent collaboration between team members, a ‘do it yourself’ ruggedness that gives room for individuality and an unrelenting dedication to overall aesthetic.”
The musical will be held in the Studio Theater in the Church of Fine Arts Building on the University campus at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24-25 and March 3-4, and at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 26 and March 5. Additionally, there will be a 20-minute talkback following the show on Feb. 25. The musical is recommended for ages 13 and up, as some material is not suitable for young children.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for seniors, non-UNR students, University faculty and staff, and $5 for University students with ID. Advance tickets are available online or at the CFA Box Office one hour prior to the show.