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MTG offers audience interactive entertainment

Cabaret
Tony-award winning musical
By Kander and Ebb
Presented by the MIT Musical Theater Guild
Sala de Puerto Rico
Jan. 31-Feb. 2 & Feb. 6-8.

By Larry McGovern
A musical by the MIT Theater Guild is truly an experience not to be missed. Their latest production, Cabaret, was charged with energy and enthusiasm. The Guild aims to have fun with their musicals and the audience.

On performance night, the entertainment begins before the curtain opens. As the audience trickles into the Sala de Puerto Rico, they are greeted -- or, more accurately, harassed -- by the cast, dressed as if in a German cabaret, complete with German accents. On Thursday night's performance, the entire audience was denounced for not meeting the dress code created by one audience member who happened to arrive in coat and tie and was held up as an example because of it. Another member of the audience narrowly avoided being thrown out by the outspoken character Max (Joe Bondaryk G), who suspected him of being a communist. The audience knows this is all done in fun and willingly participates.

Cabaret is set in the pre-World War II Kit Kat Klub, a sleazy cabaret where, according to the Emcee (Stephen Peters G), patrons are supposed to go to forget their troubles and enjoy the company of the Kit Kat Girls. The storyline centers around two Americans in Berlin, Clifford Bradshaw (Christopher Drew '94), a frustrated novelist, and Sally Bowles (Jeannette L. Ryan '92), a Kit Kat Girl who falls in love with Bradshaw.

The Musical Theater Guild enjoys audience participation, and the set was designed to give the audience the impression that they are actually in the Kit Kat Klub. The stage is simple, almost minimalist, in design. The only scenery is a curtain made from magnetic tape surrounded by a border of flashing red lights. A few props are on the audience level, including small tables where customers sit and waiters come by to serve. Many people actually dance, and a few audience members are invited to participate in this as well.

Seeing a musical by the Musical Theater Guild certainly isn't anything like Broadway. Imperfections do exist, such as those created by the size constraints of the Sala de Puerto Rico. Yet the Guild has far more in its favor than weighs against it. Audience-cast interaction in Cabaret was high, and the actors, as well as the audience, clearly enjoyed themselves during the show. A Musical Theater Guild performance can be an entertaining, inexpensive end to a stressful week of work at MIT.