What's on? Campus Cabaret


Members of the UCD Musical Society sit down with Lizzy Beecham to tell her what separates their upcoming production of Cabaret from its predecessors

The Oscar-winning film Cabaret sits somewhat on the outskirts of one’s ideas of Hollywood musicals, and doesn’t lend itself to cosy Christmas viewing on RTÉ quite the same way that The Sound of Music does. One cannot imagine Graham Norton hosting a search for the new Fraulein Schneider on BBC One on a Saturday evening, yet the 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret had a gargantuan run of 2,377-performances, making it the third longest-running revival ever in Broadway musical history.

The story behind Cabaret traces back from the book Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood to a musical penned by Fred Ebb and John Kander, and has since reached the heights of the Liza Minelli-starring, Oscar-winning film, as well as numerous reinventions across the globe. The hugely popular Broadway version of 1998 is the primary source of inspiration for the UCD Musical Society, with Sophie Dobson and Denis Grindel, two of the society’s confident performers, taking the lead roles of club singer Sally Bowles and the ghoulish Emcee.

Every good story justifies many an incarnation, so how does this production differ from what students may already be familiar with? Dobson and Grindel explain how in the intimate surroundings of the Astra Hall, they will deliver a show that explores the sombre, darker themes of abortion and homosexuality in Weimar-era Germany.

Denis in particular stresses how Cabaret is not the type of musical one may have the opportunity to see anywhere else in Dublin. He believes it is the “perfect fit” for the Musical Society, which aims to build on its strong reputation for producing musicals that are more “artsy and dramatic”, ranging from the cult favourite Little Shop of Horrors in 2010 to the hugely popular Rent in 2009. Associate producer, Aifric Nugent highlights Jazz Soc’s role in the orchestra, creating the show’s unique, brooding yet brassy atmosphere, the show “is just different … just darker and more risqué”.

Dobson points to how the strong contribution of many DramSoc members has benefitted certain aspects of the show, especially when it came to putting on realistic German and American accents and creating the show’s dramatic depth. All three are quick to praise the talent amongst the thirty-strong cast and UCD crew, who help to foster a strong sense of community within the society and allows them to push more creatively challenging shows such as Cabaret.

Dublin has seen a wealth of cultural activities since the semester began in September, particularly in the field of drama, yet fantastic projects such as the Absolut Fringe and the Dublin Theatre Festival can seem a world away from wondering whether to plump for Chipsticks or Meanies on your study break. As a student it can sometimes be hard to find genuinely different, exciting things to do during term time that fit into our strict budgets and aren’t a hassle to organise; Cabaret appears to be just the ticket for this November.

The UCD Musical Society’s production of Cabaret will take place in the Astra Hall from November 21st-25th. Tickets are priced at €8 for members, €10 for non-members and €12 for adults.