The Kit Kat Club opens for business Feb. 12-22, so come hear the music play. See UNCG Theatre’s production of “Cabaret” live in Taylor Theatre.

Kander and Ebb’s Tony-winning musical, set in pre-war Berlin as the Nazis take hold, is “one of the masterpieces of musical theater,” says John Gulley, theater professor and “Cabaret” director. “It has a challenging message nestled in an often funny, always compelling, story with beautiful music.”

And the show’s message about taking action against injustice is unfortunately timely now as we witness injustice in other forms, Gulley says. “We always need to be reminded to open our eyes to whatever injustice is around us. Even at the best of times that’s a message we need to remind ourselves of.”

Sally Bowles chooses to keep her eyes closed, despite the best efforts of her friend Cliff Bradshaw to open them. A British singer in Berlin’s somewhat seedy, second-rate Kit Kat Klub, Sally refuses to recognize the growing Nazi threat, and the atrocities that surround her.

“It’s an innocence to experience motif, and Sally chooses to stay innocent,” Gulley says. “And that is ultimately a bad choice.”

“Cabaret” is based on Christopher Isherwood’s book “Goodbye to Berlin” and John Van Druten’s stage adaptation, “I am a Camera.” The story takes place around New Year’s Eve in 1931-32.

“Isherwood’s novel really captured the creeping cancer that was Nazi-ism,” Gulley says. “It was a great snapshot of a central moment in world history.”

Sally Bowles has been portrayed onstage by Julie Harris and Natasha Richardson, and more recently by Michelle Williams and Emma Stone. Liza Minnelli won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in the 1972 film version, which differs significantly from the stage version.

Sally’s friend Cliff becomes the audience’s eyes as he witnesses the growing horror, which includes Nazi brutality toward Jews, homosexuals and others considered to be social misfits. Until the Nazi power-grab Berlin was risque, open and progressive.

“Berlin was the sex capital of the world, the most inviting capital of the world, out and comfortable, until the the Nazis strangled the life out of it,” Gulley says. “Nazi-ism killed the soul of Berlin.”

Another character, the nightclub’s Emcee, is there to push the limits, Gulley says. The Emcee was quirky and a bit weird in the original script, but the role has grown increasingly naughtier and raunchier.

“He challenges us to open our eyes, to get out of our comfort zone a bit,” Gulley says.

“Cabaret” is a challenging show, Gulley says, but his cast and crew are up to the challenge. The cast includes Carly Ruda as Sally, Brady Wease as Cliff, and Alex Cioffi as the Emcee; all are undergraduate theater majors.

Denise Gabriel, theater professor, is handling choreography. Justin P. Cowan, a graduate student in music, is musical director.

“We want to bring a degree of honesty and authenticity and truthfulness to it. We can’t play at it,” Gulley says. “It has to be honest, brutal and specific. The message is too important.”

Click here to order tickets online, or call 336-272-0160 or 336-334-4392.


Story by Michelle Hines, University Relations