Cabaret: A Glimpse At a Historical Turning Point

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On March 7th, the world-famous musical Cabaret was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The background of the story is Berlin from 1929 to 1930. It began with an American novelist traveling to Berlin seeking inspiration for his novel. By depicting the fate of the characters at that very moment of history, it told a story that is touching and thought-provoking, and a tale that depicts fantasy and reality.

Written by Yushan Guo

The curtain right before the musical began


The music in this performance was essential for establishing the settings of the story as well as depicting the inner activities of the characters. After all, it’s a musical. The music was from an orchestra located on the right side of the stage. Throughout the performance, there were several occasions that there was a 3-way interaction between the orchestra, the performers. and the audiences, which is really an interesting part of the performance. The music that played throughout the performance did a nice job of establishing the background of the story. It had elements that are very typical of the 1920s such as ragtime and swing.

The orchestra on the right side of the stage. This was also taken before the performance began.

The music was also prominent in depicting the desires and moods of the characters. A very noticeable thing is its difference between Act I and Act II. The music in the former was much more rhythmic and uplifting that it matches to the positive atmosphere of the first act, for instance, Sally and Cliff’s future, the love between Herr Schultz and Fr'ulein Schneider, and so on. In the second act, the music becomes much more gloomy as beautiful things wear away and the characters must face the cruel nature of reality. For me, the part that gave me goosebumps was at the end of the performance when Emcee says “even the orchestra is beautiful” again, the piano (which was the only instrument being played at the time) sound suddenly stopped, followed by the actors walking towards the central lights and away from the audiences. This immediately creates a dismal atmosphere.


Just like the music, the flawless set design is also one thing that makes this performance great. It has a very flexible and creative design for the transition of different sets. The 2 wooden structures played a major role in showing different places. Each of them has 2 sides, and by rotating these 2 structures they can show combinations of different locations depends on the story, for example, the hallway, Cliff’s room, the Kit Kat Club and so on. The 2 structures move further back for the monologue of the actors. In this way, the transition between sets was natural and smooth.

The booklet

For more information regarding the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts or this particular event, please visit:

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