The drama club sends a message with the musical “Cabaret”

After the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting by a neo-Nazi, the University of New Haven theater department saw an opportunity to speak out.

The Bucknall Theater hosted the opening of the Theater Department’s performance of “Cabaret” on Wednesday. The show is set in a small Berlin nightclub during the Nazi occupation and shows how “the hateful politics of the time begin to encroach and endanger” the lives of the club’s residents, director Jonathan Yukich said.

“Hate crimes are on the rise across our country, and FBI statistics released this week showed that anti-Semitic hate crimes specifically increased by 37% this year,” Yukich said. “It’s terrifying, and we need to be aware of what’s going on around us.”

In fact, according to FBI hate crime statistics, the number of anti-Jewish offenses rose from 834 in 2016 to 976 in 2017marking a substantial increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

“The show has remained incredibly relevant since its premiere in the 1960s,” said Michael Kennedy, senior theater arts major and “Cabaret” leading man. “It’s so easy to turn a blind eye to the horrible things happening in the world around us simply because we don’t believe they affect us directly.”

While preparing for the show, Kennedy said “everyone put in countless hours of work into every aspect of the production.” Those hours, however, “paid off” in what Kennedy considers perhaps “the finest production to grace the college stage” during his time here.

“It’s a great show in almost every way. Great cast, great scenery, great costumes, great lights, great music,” said Yukich, who directed a show every semester during his six years at college. “Putting it all together is very difficult. Seeing it all come together is an important part of the process.

The process has certainly taken its toll on everyone involved, with Kennedy saying “I don’t sleep as much as I should.”

“Those of us involved in these productions deserve the same treatment as student athletes,” he said. “Drama takes as much time and is as exhausting as playing a sport.”

The university’s “Cabaret” performance was dedicated to the victims of the Pittsburgh shootings.

“We think this musical, its central message, is more relevant than ever,” Yukich said.