The night before the opening of “Cabaret” had cast and crew alike busy and buzzing, trying to perfect their show.
Since early December, the crew has been putting in hours of work a day to get “Cabaret” ready for people to see. Each aspect of California Repertory’s first show of the season was worked on tirelessly by the entire team, and it has already sold out for the first two days of its run.
“We rehearsed for six weeks straight for five days a week,” said Kari Hayter, director of the show. “That’s over 20 hours a week.”
Hayter was nominated for a LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Best Direction of a Musical, and has directed many productions in Southern California, some being “Dracula” at Chapman University and “Rent” for California State University, Fullerton.
Behind the scenes, set designers, lighting designers and sound designers aimed to immerse the audience in the atmosphere of “Cabaret.” From the ceiling to the ground, theater students put the set together themselves.
“We have a lack of labor, so it’s just a few of us working,” said Natalie Morales, set designer for the show. “A big example is the floor; I painted all of that myself.”
Their goal was to portray the time period of 1930’s Berlin in one transforming set. Though they’ve had since the end of last semester to create the set, time is always a limiting factor when trying to perfect an atmosphere.
“I think you always want to consider audience when we do our stuff,” lighting designer David Zahacewski said.
“Cabaret” is known for being dark and passionate in its portrayal of Berliners in an unfriendly and distracted world, much like a metaphor for today’s society. The story follows characters Sally Bowles and Brian Roberts in their love story with complications from new suitor Maximilian von Heune, all during the rise of the Nazi party.
Backstage on Wednesday, the hair and makeup crew worked frantically to transform the cast into the Kit Kat Klub members. The trick, according to makeup designer Elizabeth Bostrom, is to aim for a dramatic and messy look.
“In this specific era it was very much like, ‘We’re going to throw away the norms of … flush with natural beauty,’” Bostrom said. “It’s like, ‘I’m using products now, makeup was invented and it’s fun to put it on,’ and they’re supposed to look messy.”
Their technique was the opposite of precision, as they wanted to capture the grit and danger of the dancers in the night club. They created fake bruises, hickeys and even made people look like they are under the influence of drugs.
“I think this show shows a different side of people,” said Breeahna Dobson, another makeup artist for the cast. “It shows a different side of the actors too.”
Just before the last dress rehearsal was about to run, actor Michael Grenie was getting ready to perform his role as Herr Schultz, and elderly Jewish man that falls in love with a boarding house owner. This will be his third time performing “Cabaret” in his over 45 years of acting.
“This will be the second time I perform this version” he said. “Even so this version is tweaked a little more, and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
And so the show goes on. Actors, crew members and behind the scenes experts all came together to create a show that they are proud of. Hayter’s vision has come to life to create a theatrical environment.
“The play touches on so many different themes,” she said. “I’m excited to see if they get affected by the play and make connections to their own lives.”
“Cabaret” premieres Friday at 7:30 p.m. with a sold out first night, and an also sold out paid preview of the show 7:30 p.m. Thursday night. The show will run from Feb. 21 through March 3 with general admission tickets costing $23 and student/faculty tickets being $18. Tickets can be purchased at OvationTix.com.