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Review: Payton Players Can Take a Bow After Wonderful “Cabaret”

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By Will Foster ’20

The Payton Players concluded four days of performances of “Cabaret” on Saturday.

The musical told the story of a lively Berlin nightclub in the early 1930s, against the backdrop of rising Nazism.

“The show has been a wonderful experience,” said assistant director Anthony Saliba ’17. “Having been in Payton’s first musical, ‘Into the Woods,’ I was looking forward to seeing the musical side of Payton’s fine arts merge with the dramatic side. We got to work with new people, and create an amazing spectacle.”

Indeed, it was quite a show. The costumes were colorful and flamboyant, and a small jazz band provided a rollicking accompaniment for the dance numbers and beautifully augmented the quieter songs. “The music was great,” said Mimi Hamada ’20, who attended Saturday’s matinee, the first of two performances that day.

Alexa Moster stole the show as Sally Bowles, a young German who meets the visiting American Clifford Bradshaw (played by Alexis Roman). The two main characters fall in love, but their romance does not last. “I really liked the actor that played Sally,” said audience member Andrew Li ’20. “Her singing was amazing.”

Imani Crews was wonderful as Fraulein Schneider, the woman who runs Clifford and Sally’s boarding house.

The performances marked the culmination of months of hard work by dozens of students and a handful of teachers. As assistant director, Saliba sat in on auditions and consulted with teachers Kerry Catlin, Kate Johnston and Marnice Lewis about casting decisions, and worked with the leads to block out their scenes. “I suppose the only challenges have come with the unification of the show’s many moving parts,” he said. “Merging choreography and singing with lighting shifts and microphone changes is complex and time-consuming, but we’ve managed to push through and create a meaningful and spectacular show.”

The meaning came mostly from the political context of that period in German history. The Nazi Party was on the rise, and the start of World War II was less than a decade away. In addition to his directing role, Saliba played a member of the party, Ernst Ludwig.

“I really liked the historical background,” said Ashley Herrera ’20.

The finale was both poignant and jarring. Immediately after a rousing ensemble reprise of “Wilkommen,” everything goes quiet, and the normally flamboyant club Emcee (played by Jake Elliot) solemnly strips off his overcoat to reveal a concentration camp prisoner’s uniform marked with the Star of David.

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