The Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre is closing its 2017 season with the musical Cabaret. It’s a play about decadence and despair, about flawed characters doing their best. In that way, it’s a very human story set in a very unusual time. Madison Mooney (MM), Playhouse Executive Director explores the nuances of this play with Sean Gray (SG), Playhouse Artistic Director and the actual director of this production of Cabaret.
MM: Now that you’ve spent a year pondering this production, what do you think it’s trying to say?
SG: It’s a warning, I think. The play shows this transition from the poor and decadent times of the 1920s to the fervent nationalism in the 1930s. Some were asleep to the danger; others choose to ignore it and others chose to embrace it.
MM: That’s interesting, can you elaborate a bit?
SG: In the beginning of 1930, very few in Germany could foresee that a charismatic leader who wanted to make his country great again would lead to a second world war and the deaths of millions of people. The characters in this show are doing their best, but they are too tied up with the decadence and promise of freedom to see what’s happening.
MM: The show touches on social issues, how did you think about those as you worked on the show?
SG: One thing that struck me was the stereotyping and scapegoating that went on. The Nazis sold a nostalgic fantasy of an Aryan Germany. The followers needed a reason to explain their poverty. Scapegoating Jews was an easy answer. Then you toss in Slavs, the Romani people, homosexuals who were demonized as well. All of these groups were previously considered “Germans.” Eventually their government would murder them.
MM: Anything else to add?
SG: Come and see the show!
The show opens October 14 and runs through November 18.