C7: Willkommen. Auf Wiedersehn.

Leave your troubles outside. So life is disappointing, forget it! In here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful, even the orchestra is beautiful.

Emcee, Cabaret

Being the first and last word of Cabaret (i.e. Willkommen. Auf Wiedersehn.), I realized that this is both the supremely fortunate and unfortunate reality of a cohort. Our cohort team experiences a production’s first meet & greet to its opening night. A cohort gets to meet the cast, directors, and designers (maybe even befriend them), BUT the opening night is an unnoticed finale for us…and then we move on to the next show. I realized this, when I left my last showing of Cabaret on Sunday night. After saying goodbye to accompanist Mike Padilla and the beloved cast (Lisa who plays Victor even said that it was like saying goodbye to “my people”), I left the theatre with a thoroughly tear-stained face. My poor husband lol.

Apparently the smallest house that the show has had yet, the audience was very vocal, engaged, and overjoyed, showering the cast with a full standing ovation and loud cheers at the end. The performance was an absolute dream; a divine, comedic, and energetic experience. Wunderbar and fantastic! I love watching professional actors getting better every performance; they hear, listen, comprehend the pauses in their lines, the understanding of the language, the admiration of the script, the exciting of the choreography, and the intense drama of their emotions, the comfortability of their body and their interaction with the other cast members. I paid attention to the characters’ final lines from Sally Bowles’s “Dedicate your book to me” to Cliff’s “…and I was dancing with Sally Bowles and we were both fast asleep” to Herr Schultz’s “Mazel. That is what we all need” to Fraulein Schneider’s “I regret – everything” to Emcee’s “Auf Wiedersehn”. By the end, the life of cabaret and its party is dead, a ghost, a memory, and the Emcee wanted to keep it going, and so everyone is in denial.

Every time that I see a production, I learn more about it and myself; this time, I perceived different definitions used about certain words – love and tomorrow. Within Sally and Cliff’s relationship, it was both a romance and a friendship, a distraction and an inspiration. Their love might have not been the healthiest, but their need for each other was intense. Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz’s love endured beyond age and identity, and then they were tortured by the unfortunate emerging political climate (i.e. the Nazis). Within the song “Meeskite”, Emcee dances with a gorilla and expresses his love for her, progressively telling the audience that everyone should just accept one’s Liebe (love) even we don’t totally understand or accept it, and sings, “she’s clever; she’s smart; she reads music. If you could see her through my eyes, she wouldn’t look Jewish at all.” Obviously, this was a very controversial and uncomfortable moment for me. In terms of “tomorrow”, it is both certain and scary inevitability. Their ending visual is the unfortunate, current reality in our world…

“First they came …” is the poetic form of a prose post-war confession first made in German in 1946 by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals and certain clergy following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group. It deals with themes of persecution, guilt, repentance, and responsibility:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Cabaret will be in Tucson until the end of December and it will be in Phoenix for the month of January!

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