Cabaret Performs “Greatest Hits”

Jeremy Garson

On the cold evening of March 1, the melodious voices of the Cabaret cast thawed out my icy heart and swept me far away from the pastures of Central New York. This was my first trip to the Palace Theatre, and I am happy an accompanying friend insisted that we occupy three seats in the front row. This made me feel an onus to stay awake and actively engage with the performance. I now understand the justification for pricey front-row seats and would gladly shell out a few extra bucks for a radically improved viewing experience. 

Cabaret is a student-run performance that overcomes insurmountable odds to produce a high-caliber show eight weeks into the semester. The show usually incorporates Broadway songs that fit a certain theme. I am glad that the directors went with “Greatest Hits” this semester, because the amazing song selection –  including hits like Lion King’s “Circle of Life” and Don McLean’s “American Pie” – filled the crowd with an energetic buzz. Five directors, consisting of sophomore Casey Konys, junior Lauren Bender and seniors Robbie Nicholas, Rebecca Murphy and Maddie Donovan ran the show from scratch and performed. Bender’s tremendous efforts as head director resulted in a sensational experience for audience members. She has performed in six Cabarets and this was her fourth time as director.

“Cabaret is an amazing opportunity for people like myself to express a love of music and theatre in a relaxed, chill environment,” Bender said.

The elaborate coordination of the show began with auditions that took place within the first two weeks of the semester’s commencement. This year, a record-breaking 65 students auditioned for 30 available spots. I am at a loss to explain how these students sacrificed up to four hours a day during the week leading up to the performance to practice together at the Palace Theatre. An accompanying band, made up of a piano, guitar, bass and drums rocked each song to perfection. Due to the large volume of music, sophomore James Carino and senior Director Robbie Nicholas split the piano parts. Bender and Nicholas informed me that opening night was the first night all the performers were on stage together.

My favorite performance of the night was senior Carly Trainor’s enchanting rendition of Galinda in “Popular” from the Broadway show “Wicked.” My jaw went slack as she taught the na??ve Elphaba, played by Donovan, “little ways to flirt and flounce.” Playing piano and harmonica at the same time was director and performer Nicholas, known to some fans as Bert. He maintained an artist’s focus in spite of several panicking fans alarmed at his choice to wear blue pants. These fans stoically reminded Robbie multiple times throughout the show that his pants were indeed blue. “Sucks to be Me,” from Avenue Q, was a comedic number. Sophomore Ben Newman’s hilarious performance made the Palace Theatre roar with laughter. The synchronization of entrances between singers made this a difficult song for the band.

Each and every person on stage made Cabaret surpass all expectations I held earlier in the evening. The performers dazzled the audience with their voices, poise and beaming smiles. The three numbers involving the entire cast would have delighted the ears of gods. I left the Cabaret in an uplifted mood, though I am critical of my newfound pestering urge to leap into song at the oddest moments. I look forward to more of these hot performances featuring some of the coolest and gutsiest members of the Colgate community.