Otterbein University - Directed by Lenny Leibowitz
Costumes by Thomas Martin - Lighting Design by Jonathan Spencer
About the Design
It is always a challenge designing a musical the second time. As a rule, I try not to recycle too many ideas from a previous design on a specific show, and I had designed Cabaret in 2017 in Georgia. Fortunately, I love to listen to director’s talk about the things that inspire them, and Lenny is excellent at providing all sorts of pathways to find inspiration. In this case it was his vision of how much space the club should inhabit and the color palettes of Dix, Grosz, and Beckman.
I wanted the club to enclose the action of the cavernous theatre–drawing the action further downstage. The trick was also letting it feel large and formerly grand. My idea was to use height as the opening device while keeping the amount of stage space relatively low. The team was drawn to the idea of mirrored spiral staircases as well as a visible band on stage. A set of brick walls and doors completes a downstage portal that allows for book scenes in Cliff’s flat and scenes with Shultz and Schneider. The upstage balcony allows for more dramatic movement as well as a perch for the Emcee to obverse and interact throughout the production.
The real joy of designing a production like Cabaret is really how the episodic nature of the scenes lends to so many different interpretations. It was a joy working with such a collaborative team. The directors provided stellar vision to how actors would move through the world. Our lighting designer collaborated throughout the process as to the light bulbs used for the club scenes, and our technical director led the construction and engineering of a large set on a tight build schedule.