Arts & Culture

UK Theatre and Dance Travels to 1930s Berlin With 'Cabaret'

photo of UK Theatre rehearsal for "Cabaret"
The cast of UK Department of Theatre and Dance rehearse for the upcoming production of "Cabaret." Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2019) — The University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance presents the Tony Award-winning musical "Cabaret" Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, at the Guignol Theatre, located in the Fine Arts Building. 

When American writer, Cliff Bradshaw, takes a train to Berlin in 1931, his life is forever changed. Join Cliff, Sally, the Emcee and the dancers of the Kit Kat Club on a seductive journey through the decadent cabaret lifestyle and seedy underground of Weimar Berlin as the shadow of Nazism slowly begins to creep into life as they know it. "Cabaret" is the winner of 12 Tony Awards and eight Oscars. 

"Cabaret," a modern American musical theatre classic, was turned into an Academy Award-winning film in 1972 starring Liza Minelli. “While the show does have a lot of the same songs and follows the basic storyline, the 1998 version of the stage production is fairly different than the 1972 film. It has songs, characters and plot-lines that were not included in the movie and is much raunchier and darker in its presentation of the story,” said director of UK Theatre and Dance's production Anne McAlexander, visiting assistant professor of musical theatre.

Though the musical is set in 1930s Europe, "Cabaret" continues to resonate with today's audiences. "I think it continues to be a timely story and speaks to audiences any time it’s done. On top of it having such amazing music and dance potential — it’s so relevant today — the story of 'Cabaret' forces us all to confront what we do in the face of prejudice and hatred.  And I think it’s a great show for college students to work on — it’s meaty and gritty, and they get to work on their singing and dancing skills. I love the theatricality of the piece too — the story is not told in a traditional linear or realistic fashion. Reality is constantly being broken to tell the story, which allows for creativity from the designers, actors, for me as the director," McAlexander said.

"Cabaret" takes the spotlight 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2 and 3. Tickets to "Cabaret" are $15 for students with a university ID and $20 for the general public. To purchase tickets to UK Theatre and Dance's productions at Guignol Theatre, contact the Singletary Center ticket office at 859-257-4929, visit online at, or visit the ticket office in person.

The Department of Theatre and Dance, part of UK College of Fine Arts, is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre. Students in the department get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from professional faculty and renowned guest artists in acting, directing, playwriting, theatrical design and technology. From mainstage productions to student-produced shows, students have plenty of opportunities to participate on stage or backstage. Special programs include a musical theatre certificate, education abroad, as well as a thriving dance program that emphasizes technique, composition, performance and production.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.