Caffeinated Cabaret

**Please note: I wrote this article while wired on coffee as a part of my extensive research methods, so please be prepared for an abundance of em-dashes, parentheticals, and reference markers, which hold my neurotic asides.

Ajit the Latte Boy

Ajit the Latte Boy

 

Medically speaking, caffeinated coffee is detrimental to quality vocal health^; it dehydrates the vocal cords and causes a general damage to them.

September 23 marks Cabaret Theatre's annual pairing of coffee and performance: Café Cabaret. Luckily, singing isn't the only medium of performance allowed (Rutgers’ ventriloquists, this is your time to SHINE), and all kinds of performance are encouraged (musicians, poets, dancers, actors, magicians, jugglers, contortionists, sword swallowers, tightrope walkers, looserope walkers, those people that used to do those motorcycle tricks in the Ringling Brothers shows where they'd get inside that spiral cage and zip around it (you know the stunt I'm talking about), mimes).

Now, I have no idea what's going to be performed that night, or even who's performing, and have no way of sneaking in a dress rehearsal to give a critique about—but the blog must go on! (and, in keeping with the theme of out-doing Anna, I noticed she never covered Café Caberét, so I had to cover it to assert my dominance and be better than her already (as if you haven't already arrived at this conclusion))

So, what can I blog about if I haven't seen anything blog-worthy? Well, you clearly don't fully understand my ability to ramble on in a stream-of-consciousness, or how I love to hear myself talk (err, write). As such, I decided I'm going to rank musical theater songs to do with coffee, which is at least ~sort of~ aligned with Café Cabérét's theme (I'm trying my best, okay).

This ranking is to be purely objective, and I will not have anybody messaging me later trying to debate these rankings because I swear on Maya (Cáfé Cábárét coordinator)'s head I will throw hands.

Maya the Latte Girl

Maya the Latte Girl

As with all serious inquiries, we must define the parameters to judge these songs:

First, as a prerequisite, the song must be readily available on Youtube (this disqualifies “Coffee, Black” from BIG because I can't find a studio version, but instead just get poor high school production versions) or any music streaming service (except for Google Play Music, because seriously, who actually cares about what's uploaded onto Google Play Music? Just get an iPhone and a Mac already and be a sheep like the rest of us).

Second, another prerequisite, the song must have at least a verse dedicated to it about coffee, use coffee as a metaphor, or have coffee at its thematic core (for example, "Sunday" from Tick...Tick...BOOM! was disqualified because it only mentioned coffee in the chorus, was merely an aside, and is a detail in the song's being about Sunday brunch at a diner and the kinds of people that attend).

Third, is the song entertaining on its own? Away from staging, is it worthwhile to listen to it from a soundtrack?

Fourth, how do the characters treat the coffee? Do they like it? Do they hate it? How do they take it? (re-read this parameter again, but in a catchier sing-song-y way to fully appreciate this one).

Fifth, how vital is the coffee to the character? Like, do they need coffee or else they'll get a soft migraine around their right temple that mandates they take two Advil (totally not speaking from experience here).

These are the rules and I won't hear a friggin' peep about them being weak. Now, without further ado, let's get down to (How to Succeed in) business.

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7. "You're the Cream in My Coffee" from Good News

This song is painfully annoying and not entertaining in the least bit. The characters don't even care about coffee and are just using it for some dumb romantic metaphor. If I referred to my SO as the "cream in my coffee," I think she'd actually leave me for being cliché and being so non-essential, because, like, you don't NEED cream in your coffee—like, what if the guy is just saying this to get the girl into bed and he actually drinks it black or with almond milk or something? Idk. The guy in the song's intent sounds fishy to me. He could literally be saying she's actually insignificant to him and I will not rank highly a song that elevates a devious man, no sir.

(Note: this is why I refer to my SO primarily as "the mitochondria to my cell," because that's 1) unique and 2) expresses essentialism because–say it with me, folks—the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell(!))

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6. "Coffee" from See What I Wanna See

Honestly, this is my favorite song on this entire list. Idina's performance on the readily available cast recording is superb and a wildly entertaining on its own. But, while it scores highly along that parameter, it scores super low on the others. First of all, she doesn't even like coffee! That fact is central to the irony of the whole song, which allows it to get on this list, but oh my goodness how does somebody actually not like coffee. Like, I get if you're aware that it makes you anxious and have self-control, or really highly value unstained teeth; but true dislike? Heresy, imo.

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5. "Coffee in a Cupboard Cup" from 70, Girls, 70

Another song I find seriously entertaining, yet gets ranked towards the bottom half. The performers whole argument in the song is that the issues with the world today is the pace at which people feel the need to do things, unwilling to rest and enjoy a nice cup of coffee in a mug, relaxing somewhere. While not a terrible argument, and one that the implication of coffee being the chosen thing to relax and enjoy for the sake of the argument, to me, expresses the high value the characters place on coffee…but 'ya boy needs his coffee on-the-go p often. The world and its pace are not changing for you anytime soon, I'm sorry, but that's the harsh reality. Succumb to its pace and, when you have a moment to relax, use it to indulge in a stiff bourbon that'll numb you until time feels slow enough to meet your unrealistic yearning instead. Also: what kind of name is 70, Girls, 70 for a musical anyways?

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4. "Big Picture" from Ordinary Days

 Wow, what an entertaining song from an entertaining show, wow. Unfortunately, while the song is so so so enjoyable (like the rest of the show), it only references coffee in the beginning with the characters' orders at Starbucks before disappearing from reference in the song altogether. Otherwise, it could've easily made the top of this list because the music in this show is so amazing (Yes, cat's out of the bag^^, I have an obvious bias here; so I might as well be as excessive and in-your-face about it, rather than beat around the bush, yfm?)

Pao(sweet n')lo the Iced Latte Boy

Pao(sweet n')lo the Iced Latte Boy

3. "Taylor the Latte Boy" from seemingly every musical theatre audition

This song is the epitome of overdone, but is sort of justified, I think, I guess? I dunno. I find this song both pretty entertaining, but also super boring, which is kind of how I think of myself, so my ego won’t allow this to not not be in the top three because of that parallel and the fact that my ego is fragile. In itself though, lyrically, the song is super darn cute, and the fact that coffee catalyzes the romance gives it bonus points (I’m making the rules, I say love gets bonus points, okay?). Also, “Who’d have thought that love could be so caffeinated,” without the romantic context of the song is p much my motto, so more bonus points. 

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2.  "Coffee" from I Love You Because

 This song actually causes me a lot of stress and confusion, which is why I put it at number two because we love the things that cause us agony, amiright? It’s a lot of fun musically and lyrically, and Austin drinks his coffee black (points), but it can’t be any higher than number three because 1) they’re both really condescending about their coffee views, which is a p annoying part of coffee culture, I M O—just enjoy your coffee how you like it, why get all up in other peoples’ opinions and values when they don’t transgress on your life experience (spoiler: this applies to ideology as well. Yeah, this post just got political, boy) and 2) there’s that whole phone conversation that is just really super not good, especially in that whole aging pickle pregnant woman thing. Like what? Pickles are attractive to whoever, whenever, and if you think otherwise you’re wrong. Pickles are great (shoutout to the Hansel marketing).

(Fun fact: did you know our producer, Ajit J. Mathews, performed this song in a musical revue once? If anybody has a copy of it somewhere, please forward it to drn35@scarletmail.rutgers.edu, I beg).

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1. "Coffee Break" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

The song you knew was coming all along. It’s been a nice journey though, right, I hope, (please say yes)? This song fulfills everything we’ve been examining to the absolute max: it’s a freaking bop and a half, the performers love their coffee maddeningly, and coffee is literally so essential to them that a piece of them DIES if they don’t have time to get more. DIES. This is a hec*ing LIFE OR DEATH situation on our hands here, all because of coffee! To place this any lower than first would be an absolute injustice. Plus, I get to listen to this on Spotify from the revival soundtrack that has Daniel Radcliffe’s face on the cover, which is great considering he’s such a handsome man whose mere appearance reminds me of Harry Potter and my youth and the time before everything already started getting sad with age.

Well, that’s the list! I would ask you what you thought, but, remember, this is objective fact—I operate only in the realm of objectivity. Please do not @ me, tysm.

If you’ve stuck around to read this article in its entirety I want to tysm pt. 2 (the remix) and ask you to stop procrastinating and get back to whatever work it is you should be doing right now because that’s the only reason I can imagine anybody sticking this whole thing out, tbh. Kk, ttyl.

Xoxo Blogsip Boy

Cáfé Cábárét will be this Saturday night at Cabaret Theatre at 7PM. It's FREE and we'll have coffee(!) AND food(!!). Looking forward to seeing you there!

^Upon further review, I found out that decaffeinated coffee is actually fine, apparently; but like, seriously, what's the purpose of decaf anyways? That’s like choosing to ride the merry-go-round when some badass rollercoaster is right next to it.

^^Literally none of you 6 readers sent me an explanation for the origin of the phrase "cat's out of the bag," and I still get it and it's really bothering me help.

Yes They Slay: A Musical Revue Review

“I’m sorry, the old Social Media Chair can’t come to the phone right now.”

“Why?”

“Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!”

No, she’s not dead. Worse, she’s graduated and—even worse than that—working with children, which I personally consider a fate worse than death.

Nevertheless, the blog must go on! Thus, emerges the witty, wise, and weirdly into alliteration new Social Media Chair, who will be just like the last one, except funnier: David Novis.

Photo by Larry Fried

Photo by Larry Fried

Who is me. I am David. I’ve been writing my intro this whole time (my ego is maniacal). Cat’s out of the bag^.

Well, hello! Coincidentally, I’m also the Assistant Director of If I Stay: A Musical Revue, which is actually supposed to be the focus of this post—rather than me rambling about myself for 1,000 words (which trust me I can do, but by word 750 it will get really introspective and sad and nobody actually wants that). So, instead, I’m going to do the thing and focus on the revue because also if I don’t Katie (Siegel) might fire me and I wasn’t planning to get canned until at least Ordinary Days.

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Photo by Paolo Arceo

So, okay, what is If I Stay: A Musical Revue: A Rock Opera anyways? Heck, what is a revue to begin with? Well, lemme get all C+ 7th grade essay up in here and say that Webster’s defines a revue as “a light theatrical entertainment consisting of a series of short sketches, songs, and dances, typically dealing satirically with topical issues.” And, true to form, this revue does all of that! Sort of.

Because this is not just light and satirical—it’s also real and hard as h*ck.

“It tackles what a lot of college aged students, in our generation, feel. There’s the anxiety of songs like *** and songs that deal with homecoming and nostalgia like ***. There are a lot of deep messages in the show that are really important to the people of this generation,” explains Jonah Levinson, cast member.

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve been back at Rutgers, like, a week now, maybe—and you expect me to go see some real hard-ass life shit? When I could just go out instead? And drown those kinds of feelings with copious amounts of alcohol, while at some uncomfortable frat house, until I’ve numbed myself from that harsh, bitter reality entirely?”

Yes.

Because it isn’t just all dark, serious life stuff! Well, it is—but there’s a silver lining!

“The show’s resolution is incredibly fulfilling—the realization that you’re never truly alone while experiencing these feelings, and on this journey that may seem so hopeless at times. It gives the show this, sort of, obscure, implicit optimism, serving as a reminder that everything will be okay in the end,” relates David Novis, Assistant Director (What? I’m a part of the production too. I can interview myself. It’s not against the law. Sue me, it’ll hold up, and I’ll win).

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Interested now, huh? But now I’m sure you’re thinking: “What are these ‘profound’ songs anyways? Will I even enjoy the music?”

Well, there’s a reason I edited out the song titles up in Jonah’s quote there—it’s a surprise

“It was kind of my first time hearing a lot these songs with instruments,” Levinson confesses.

What I can tell you is that it’s co-written by two of our fellow students, Ajit J. Mathews and Maya Mitterhoff, and comprises of 21 hyper-contemporary musical theater bops, bangers, dingers, dongers, and lushies (these are all positive synonyms for songs, I swear).

“The thing I like about the show is how all the songs are so uniquely different, yet they fit very well when it comes to the overlying theme,” says Jennifer Dars, cast member.

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Photo by Paolo Arceo

And the best part of all of this is they sound REALLY good. Like, obnoxiously good. And look obnoxiously good too. It actually lowkey gets me angry there are only ~75 seats inside Cabaret and that everybody at Rutgers won’t be able to come in and watch them all be really obnoxiously really good.

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Rachel Spillane, cast member, put it much more elegantly, recalling how she felt just a few days ago as it began to come together,

“I walked in and all the lights were on the stage, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, we have a show now. This is happening.' It hit me that we have this piece of art that we created; and all of a sudden it’s alive and well.”

Photo by Paolo Arceo

Photo by Paolo Arceo

You hear that? Art. They’ve made art there and it is happening – this weekend. So, like, be there. Please. If none of this managed to incentivize you enough to come, let me leave you with this one last sentiment from Spillane:


“There’s a song for everyone—even if you relate to just a little piece of something.”

Something for everything! And everyone (logically) includes you, the reader, so, therefore, there’s something for you, and you should listen to the wise Spillane (or come to prove her wrong and tell her after the show how you didn’t find anything relatable, idk, we’ll already have your money by then so whatever, I guess).

(But I highly doubt that’ll happen…you know…I bet that it’s more likely you’ll…stay)

(Wow, that’s really how I’m going to close my first blog post, huh? Setting a low bar for this year aren’t I…)

^If somebody could explain this metaphor to me, I would really appreciate it because I’ve personally never understood it. Please email your explanation to drn35@scarletmail.rutgers.edu, thank you so much in advance.    

TICKETS FOR IF I STAY: A MUSICAL REVUE: http://sabo.tix.com/m/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=4785&framed=true

You've Never Seen This Bear - wait, is that the line?

It's here!! The final mainstage!! We did it fam! We're alive! - well, mostly. Our final show, and my final blog post and final show at Rutgers, is bare: A Pop Opera, directed by Kat Beliavski. A show about the struggles of sexual and religious identity, friendship, family, love, and getting through the school play, bare is a show you definitely do NOT want to miss. 

pc: Lauren Burcheri (Co-MD)

pc: Lauren Burcheri (Co-MD)

People should come see bare because it’s a very important cause #SaveTheBears. But also you’ll laugh and you’ll cry and then you’ll cry a lot and then you’ll walk away having experienced this amazing journey with all of us.
— Kat Beliavski, Director
pc: Katie Siegel (Diane)

pc: Katie Siegel (Diane)

Peter and Jason are roommates and they're in loooooove. However, it's pretty hard to be queer in a Catholic boarding school, or so I'd imagine. This show brings us through their efforts to keep things quiet, and then to cover it up, and then to leave it. I am aware that sentence was very vague and not even very well-constructed. Come see the show so you can figure out what I was trying to say!

As in the style of a traditional opera, this show is 99% sung through. With 36 songs in the score, all of which are straight fire btw, the cast and pit show incredible talent and skill throughout the whole production. And no, I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the music directors. :)

The Music

pc: Lauren Burcheri (Co-MD)

pc: Lauren Burcheri (Co-MD)

This show ranges so many different genres that audience members will have no problem finding at least one song they enjoy. We go from sacred latin text in a traditional SATB setting to some rap to a funky gospel beat in one act alone! Of course, there are gonna be favorites among the cast and staff. Mine is a song called "Are You There?" so don't be surprised if I get more into it during that number than any other number. It's fire, you'll see. 

My favorite song is Are You There. That was actually the first song i listened to from Bare back when I was in 8th grade and pre-gay. So you can say i was pretty stoked when i had the chance to sing it. It almost means a lot more to me knowing that I get to sing it with my best friend, Jonah.
— Paolo Arceo, WHAT

I talked to myself in my head and asked about how the musical process went for this show. "Well," I said, "keeping all the key changes and tempo changes and transitions together was one of the most challenging things about bare. I was very out of my element for a while, but my pit members are so lovely and talented that it was so much easier to work through. On the vocal side of things, this show is extremely demanding of our singers. I think Jonah is onstage for like 85% of the show, if that. Pretty much every number will seem like a showstopper to the audience, until the next one starts and then you're like, 'woah, this one is awesome too!!' These songs will make you laugh, and cringe, and connect with the characters in a way that'll leave some of you in tears. Not me, though. Definitely not me. Please don't look at me." 

pc: Katie Siegel (Diane)

pc: Katie Siegel (Diane)

Lauren Burcheri (Labor studies and employment relations with a concentration on law and the workplace, with a double minor in human resource management and music; Senior) (holy crap) is my awesome Co-MD, and I don't know what I would've done without having another human at my side during all of this. "I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with this cast. Each and every one of them has been extraordinarily dedicated to bringing this show to life and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of humans to close out my collegiate career with."

The Characters

“Bare is such an important show for people to see because the struggles that the characters face throughout the show are extremely relevant to the issues many people still face today. This show shines a light on the importance of accepting one another and oneself.”
— Jennifer Dars (Public Relations, Freshman)

Some of you are probably thinking, 'Man, here's another musical about being in high school, what makes this any different than the others?" and some of you are currently thinking "how is anna all up in mY MIND RN?" Hold the phone, fam. This show is incredible! It takes the conventional idea of high school love triangles (*vom*) and intertwines it with issues like social identity, religious identity, substance abuse (*spoiler),  and having weird dreams. The characters are all so distinct, and they carry you through the plot so smoothly, you don't even see the end coming. 

pc: Lauren Burcheri (Co-MD)

pc: Lauren Burcheri (Co-MD)

Gabby Talvacchia (History and Political Science, Junior) is such a cool cat that this is her second time doing this show! "It's cool doing a show for the second time because even though I've done the show before, this production has still been a completely new experience. The first time I did bare I was in the ensemble, but my favorite part of doing this show this time around has been being able to explore Ivy's character and see the show through her perspective. I am nothing like Ivy in real life and I was really intimidated by this role at first. But it has been an amazing experience going so far out of my comfort zone." 

Jillian Hanna (Theatre and Psychology, Senior) plays one of the more complex characters in the show. "My character is the heavy-set, sarcastic punk/goth chick who kind of feels out of place because of her size. She's got lots of talent but is often overlooked for roles because of the way she looks. This pretty much describes a large portion of my theatrical experiences thus far. I don't want to give too much away, but she also deals with some traumatic stuff that i have been through. I find it a little insane how deeply i connect with this character--having these connections with her has pushed me to be more vulnerable and go even further in my crafting."

It’s hard to choose a favorite moment so I’m not going to. The bear in act 2 probably wins though.
— Kat Beliavski, Director

Cast members and character roles coincide more than once in this group. Paolo Arceo (Psychology and Theatre, Junior) has apparently been  "method acting this role since I came out the womb. Matt and I are the same in the sense that we continuously try so hard to be great but always come second to people who effortlessly are talented. I'm also "good" at everything but still not amazing at anything. Tbh, if it's sad and Matt went through it, i probably did too. Love you, Matt. #mattlivesmatter" This response to my question was so extra, and really not indicative of how he plays this role in the show. Come see how Paolo SLAYS in this show, and see why his words are wrong. 

pc: Lauren Burcheri (Co-MD)

pc: Lauren Burcheri (Co-MD)

The Process

pc: Katie Siegel (DIane)

pc: Katie Siegel (DIane)

Any show comes with good times and speed bumps that we need to get over, and this show was no exception. Nic Noa told me about his high and low during the process. "My favorite part of this process has got to be experiencing the wide range of emotions that Jason feels throughout the show. He makes some very bold and questionable choices throughout the course of the show, and finding reasons to justify why he's making these choices has helped me understand Jason much better as a person."

And as for his biggest challenge? "Getting used to the space of Cabaret Theatre. My high school was brand new with an auditorium that held 800 and the stage was pretty far from the audience. I performed on that stage for 4 years and Cabaret is the polar opposite. What I'm learning to love about Cabaret is that it's so intimate- the audience is so close that they can literally reach out and touch the actors. The intimacy of Cabaret has required me to adjust myself as an actor since the audience can see everything that happens on stage."

Amy Cruz (English, Freshman) plays Peter's Mom, and seems to have had a great time! "My favorite part of being in the show has been really getting to know the awesome people at Cabaret. I've grown close to the cast and staff, and because of them I absolutely cannot wait to continue to be a part of Rutgers student theater!"

pc: Paolo Arceo (Matt)

pc: Paolo Arceo (Matt)

Kat Beliavski (Theatre Arts, Senior) talks about her fav part too - "I guess the most rewarding part of directing this production is seeing everyone finding their moments in the show. Every day, someone tries something new and it just works. The ensemble and featured roles don't get lost in this musical like they tend to in others. The cast is an absolute joy to watch and I think everyone that comes to see the show won't be able to take their eyes off Katie Siegel being deliciously awful as Diane."

She also went into talking about the prostaff, but I'm not sure she said everything she wanted to say about everyone (peep the last sentence). "This Pro Staff is honestly unbelievable. This is such a massive show and it would be impossible without a group of individuals as dedicated and talented as these humans. David and Lulu are a great team, Alex is our go-to guy for pretty much anything (he was seeing a costume two minutes ago and is currently subbing in for someone on stage since he's the understudy for every character), Lauren came to our first meeting with over 15 pages of notes (not an exaggeration), and Anna's also okay I guess. "

Like the songs, you'll be able to connect with at least one of these characters at some point in the show because honestly, who didn't have issues without finding yourself in high school?

The Production

Bare. Bear? No, it's definitely bare. The whole vision for this show is centered around the idea that everyone is left so vulnerable by the end. The set is follows the minimalistic style, with benches serving more than one purpose in the show. The cast wears uniforms. And in this small, black box, the show's aesthetic allows your imagination to be engaged throughout. The lights are really freaking cool, too, just saying, and were the ain reason why our headshots all look the way they do - Paolo and Kat wanted it to look like stained glass.

pc: Paolo Arceo (Matt)

pc: Paolo Arceo (Matt)

One of the things I look for when watching a show is what it's trying to tell me. What's the message?

pc: Paolo Arceo (Matt)

pc: Paolo Arceo (Matt)

Director Kat Beliavski said, "I think bare has a lot of messages. That's what makes it so great. And it might sound like a cliche, but being your true self is probably one of the most important ones. To be honest with yourself, It's that simple. The lives of all five leads are laid bare by the end of the show for everyone to see and Peter emerges as a beacon of honesty and the one person that is willing to be fully happy with himself just as he is. I really admire his character a lot and hope the audience is able to learn something from his journey. But also bears. The main point is bears."

Yeah, guys, look for the bear cameo in the middle of the show, it really takes the plot for a ride :) 

pc: Kat Beliavski (Director)

pc: Kat Beliavski (Director)

Jillian Hanna wants "people to leave this show questioning their beliefs and intentions in life. I want them to understand that having more of an open mind is something that all of us need to work on--but ESPECIALLY if we have been raised in households that are more closed-minded due to cultural or religious standards. we should all consistently question ourselves and be able to adapt to our ever-changing world."

pc: Katie Siegel (Diane)

pc: Katie Siegel (Diane)

Gabby thinks that "bare shows us the importance of being true to yourself. Almost everyone at some point in their lives struggles with trying to fit into certain surrounding, whether it be at school, church, or even your own family. A show like bare reminds us that you don't have to go through life trying to be someone you're not, there are always going to be people out there that accept and love you for you."

THIS SHOW IS AMAZING, COME SEE IT UGH

  

Do the Thing

You've got Barely any time to get your tickets before the opening of the show, so get on it, ya goonz! Tickets are available online as well as in person at Cabaret Theatre - but there are only a limited number being sold at the door, so buy them early!!
 

Aside from the extremely dope pop-rock music in the show, another reason why people should come see the show is because it address many issues that people in our age group can relate to- Issues of identity and finding our place in the world. In that way, most members of the audience will find themselves relating to at least one character.
— Nicolas Noa (Music Education - Voice, Freshman)

Well, that was my last post I guess. Check me out in a few weeks when I blubber on about how much this place means to me and then I say bye to this whole institution or whatever. See you at the show! :)

No Plans This Weekend? Oh, Pfff!!! Come See OPF!

I keep regretting all these blog titles, plz someone stop me

I keep regretting all these blog titles, plz someone stop me

Do you like dogs? Do you like cookies? What about Christmas? Do you like to laugh? Okay, what about crying? Finally, do you like good theatre? If 3 of your answers were yes, 1 was "um...what?', and the other was "is she trying to be funny again?", then I've got the show for you! The 9th Annual Original Play Festival is back in action and you have THIS WEEKEND ONLY to secure your ticket! Let's talk about it, and look at all my blurry pictures!

The Process

Student playwrights! Student directors! Student actors! A student run theatre company! So many students! Rutgers has a lot of those! Come see these amazing artists put on never-before-seen plays in our own little black box theatre. 

It doesn’t follow the conventions of a typical Cabaret show. By performing five completely different plays, the show stays fresh and the audience gets something a little bit different than what they’re used to, something I hope they remember and tell their friends about after they’ve left the theater
— Nathan Olmeda (Senior)

The way it works is that plays are chosen by the OPF coordinator, students interview to be a director, and then hold auditions for the shows they're assigned. These directors have the unique opportunity to communicate directly with their playwright, and make their work come to life! 

Tatianah Demande (Junior, English and Comparative Literature) talked to me about her awesome relationship with the playwright of her show, Com Down. "Fortunately for me, I got the work of someone I’ve known for a while, Julianna Pica, and was familiar with. Pica and I were immediately on the same page. From the beginning she told me, do what you think is best, I wrote it but you’re staging it. There was a level of trust and respect there that I think is really important when you put on someone else’s work. If I ever wanted to change something, I would explain it to her and she either revised or explained to me why a change like that would take away from the piece. There was an open dialogue that allowed the production to be the best that it could be."

A lot of times when I would be in english class or some sort of music rehearsal, the teacher would say, "this is kind of vague, but we can't really ask the writer or composer what they meant because they're dead!" so I'd imagine it's really cool to have have questions for a playwright that is easily accessible and breathing! 

The Cast 

As I've said time and time again, Cabaret is attracts some of the most talented people ever. No exaggeration. And this cast is no different - these 5 shows make up a cast that wowed me right from when the lights came up to the bows at the end. With such complex characters, people might wonder what these student actors do to get themselves in character. 

My favorite part of being in OPF is being surrounded by people who put their all into the work they’ve done to help OPF become a memorable production for the people involved and for the audience. Just by witnessing all of the hard work that everyone’s done for the production, I get inspired to do the best that I can to help make OPF a success and a wonderful experience.
— Colee Bellmark (Sophomore, History)

Colee Bellmay (Sophomore, History) is an OPF veteran, and gave me a little insight into how she prepares for her role. "I crafted my character around people I know and my relationship with my parents, and also the relationship that my mom had with her mom. Using experiences and conversations that I’ve had with these people has definitely allowed me to connect with and craft my character." Fun fact: her show made me shed a super dramatic single tear. Watch out for her, she's incredible.

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Nathan Olmeda plays 2 very different roles in this production, and does a great job at both! "Both roles are very fulfilling in their own way! By playing two roles, I get to expand my range of emotions and feelings in a way that I can't in a normal production."

Watching casts work together as a unit is something I find so special about theatre. This show's got it. Come see it. 

Directing

First time directors probably had a few things they were worried about on their minds, and I decided to e x p o s e them - just kidding. But they really were all ready to comment on their growth as a director. 

Maya Mitterhoff (Sophomore, Music Education) directs Syzygy and does a rockin' job at it. However, she had her doubts going in. "The most challenging part was taking the lead for the first time. I've spent a lot of time working on being a good cast member and performer, but this was totally new to me. Now, it's not so scary. I know it's all about teamwork and flexibility and risk taking. And it's a very exciting thing, that I definitely want to do again."

Tatianah was worried about getting the show to it's final product. "It was weird. Like you already kind of know what you’re doing but at the same time you have no idea and you always question whether you’re making the right choices and if it’s going to come out right. Getting over that fear and always wondering what the playwright will think or if the audience will enjoy it was really hard. I think I got to the point where I just had to ask myself if I like it and was I okay with what I created because at the end of the day it was my work and the efforts I made with others. That was what really helped me get over that fear and gave me a different perspective on what I was doing. And I f-ing love it."

It’s cheesy to say it, but it truly will make you laugh and cry, and it will be hard to leave without a smile on your face.
— Maya Mitterhoff (Sophomore, Music Education)

David Novis (Junior, English and Political Science) said, "I actually didn't choose this show. The way the process went, I just applied and had a play assigned to me. It was sort of daunting at first, considering I didn't know right away if I could do the type of show well and was scared I'd screw up somebody's work, but luckily they paired with a scene so good it was hard to mess up." He also thinks he's he's hip with the cool slang in his next answer - "The most challenging part was trying to figure out how to hit those hard emotional beats right (and also teaching Benji how to play solitaire)."  (***spoiler alert!) (I think it's too late for it) (my b) Come find out what he means with his fancy youth lingo! 

The Experience

Cabaret is a place for opportunity. These directors and actors spent the last several weeks working together and growing together as artists. I talked to a bunch about what they got out of the OPF experience. 

"My favorite part of this experience is the people I got to work with," says Tatianah. "You get support for every side of it. Someone was always there when I had a question or needed help whether it was lights or costumes or even just coming with me to Target. Working with people in the same boat as me as first time directors, and sharing those experiences really helped. Elizabeth, Jill, and Ajit were a wonderful support system. And words can’t even describe how awesome Emily and Thomas were. You go into auditions hoping for the best and the you hope you made the right choice. I got them and they pushed me to be better. This was my first time directing and they were already such talented actors. We made a great team. We all did.

There's no way people won't believe we've got great people in this show, because that's all anyone could talk about!

"My favorite part of being in OPF is being surrounded by people who put their all into the work they’ve done to help OPF become a memorable production for the people involved and for the audience," raved Colee. "Just by witnessing all of the hard work that everyone’s done for the production, I get inspired to do the best that I can to help make OPF a success and a wonderful experience."

The best part was really being able to finally know that this is for me. I was in the office last night after tech, putting some last minute touches on a costume and I had a moment where I just sat there, mulling over the production and the process and knew. This is it. Of course it is not without its difficulties but this experience was nothing I wanted it to be and everything I needed it to be.
— Tatianah Demande (Junior, English and Comparative Literature)

But of course, these people are here to perform, and Maya's favorite part was putting all the pieces together. "My favorite part has definitely been being able to watch it come together during tech. These plays are all so great and watching them for the first time was a wonderful, magical thing. I'm so proud of the other directors and actors, in addition to my own actors of course. Storytelling is definitely something everyone in OPF deeply cares for, and I must say we do a damn good job at it."

 

Are you convinced yet? Please say yes omg

Come see these amazing Rutgers students put on a show in our little black box theatre on the street corner. This is the only weekend to do it! See you there :) 

People should come see OPF because their fellow students wrote dope stuff and it’s great to support their work and it’s great to support student theater and it’s all great and also you get to watch Benji play solitaire for about fifteen minutes which is so great I swear.
— David Novis (Junior, English and Political Science)

You Got Older! Duh! That's How Time Works!

I already regret this blog title. 

I already regret this blog title. 

Hello theatre friends, and welcome to yet another episode of Anna Tries to Take Decent Pictures and Write Funny Words on the Internet! I'm your host, Anna, and today I'll be talking about Cabaret Theatre's third mainstage, You Got Older

Directed by Shayna Carney, this show goes through the life and times of Mae, whose life and times are actually kind of a hot mess. And it gets even worse when her dad gets sick and she has to move back home after being dumped and fired by the same guy. Talk about a bad day, wow. You Got Older walks us through her life, as she falls back into the youthful routine of her adolescence, her fantasies about a burly Canadian cowboy, and dealing with the rest of her siblings as they await her father's treatment. 

Not gonna lie, this is a weird show. I like to consider myself to be a weird person, but this show really threw me for a loop, which is the first time this has happened in like...ever. But that's a good thing! Congrats, guys. You beat me. I found myself squirming, and cringing, and laughing, and dropping my jaw, and on the verge of tears multiple times throughout the whole show - and that's freaking awesome. That's theatre. 

The cast has an incredible dynamic. Comprised of 7 fantastic actors and actresses, You Got Older presents an extremely relatable story - even if you aren't a person who fantasizes about Canadian cowboys. Krystina Matos (Junior, Majors in Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies, Minors in Sexuality and Statistics) leads the show as Mae, and told me a little about how the cast works with each other. "The cast dynamic is so funny to me. There is never a moment in the show where the whole cast is on stage, and there were very few rehearsals where we all were there before we started running the whole show. Yet, we still have this closeness and this constant need to be talking to each other and checking on each other. It's so easy to have that when there are so few people involved, except Andrew can't seem to remember our names for some reason..."

Eating a raw avocado...That’s complete anarchy. I can think of so many better ways to consume an avocado.
— Andrew Parsons (Sophomore, Pre-Business), Matthew

The Characters

From watching the show twice, I couldn't even tell that they didn't rehearse all that much as a full cast. The way they work off of each other is so natural you can't detect it. Celine Dirkes (Junior, Theatre and English) went into how she uses the cast to craft her character. "To connect with my character I connect with other characters! I imagine the circumstances and place the other characters in the position of my siblings or father and then focus on reacting truthfully to what they give me in the moment. "

At the same time that they were falling into place with their cast members, some of them found themselves in their own characters. Krystina said, "The most challenging part about my role is doing it justice. Mae is such a full, well-rounded, real character, and this play surrounds and centers on her. Because the play is so intimate, it's hard to remember sometimes that I'm on stage because you're enveloped by the person across from you. Mae and I are similar in so many ways. We're both very bold women with no filter on our conversations. There were so many times during the rehearsal process when I'd laugh at myself saying a line because it's exactly something I would say - ridiculously out of nowhere yet thought-provoking, thinking-out-loud. But mostly ridiculous."

My favorite part of the show is when Brian Nowak rides an actual live horse into Cabaret. You don’t wanna miss that.
— Katie Siegel, Jenny

Mario Gambino (Senior, Communication) plays Dad, and finds that he can see himself and his grandfather in his role. "The general jokeyness of dad is something that I think he shares with me. He's never too serious. Even in this dark time he's able to be lighthearted, but he has his limits and you kind of see him break down at the end. In terms of differences, I think Dad is probably a lot more patient than me. I mean it takes him almost until the end of the play to even lose his cool a little bit. I would have been a lot less patient with Mae giving me the cold shoulder so often. The connection I share with him is more external than internal. I based him a lot off my grandfather who's just a very kind hearted man who went through similar medical issues a few years ago and it was just inspiring how he handled it. So, I kind of think of it as trying to do him proud. You know, having the honor to basically live as him for a night is really special and that makes the connection I have with my character all the more important and meaningful."

The Message

The show is funny, this show is dark, this show is uncomfortable, this show makes you hungry for food and other things (lol). I left the dress rehearsal with a bunch of different ideas as to what they wanted me to focus on, but I asked the cast their opinions. 

Katie Siegel (Journalism and Media Studies) plays Jenny and talks about what it means to be family. "I think there are numerous messages that can be taken from the show depending on the individual and their own experiences, so I’ll just say the main one that speaks to me. The part of the show that I’m involved in is very family-centered, and as corny and basic as it sounds, I think one of the simpler messages of the show is the importance of family. While in this show the family is related by blood, I think the definition of family can be expanded to include the people who are there for you when you need them the most."

When you come out of this show, I hope you try to find little moments of celebration even when it seems like the world is crumbling around you - just like Mae.
— Shayna Carney, Director

Mario doesn't think there is one: "I think there is no grand message. I think this show is vey impressionistic and the message really depends on what an audience member sees. There's definitely a lot here and I personally see it as a piece heavily involved with empathy and maturity. But, I think it heavily depends on what an audience brings in to it and I really credit the writing and directing to be able to do that so delicately and without making it feel lightweight."

People should come see this show because it’s something you rarely get to see on college campuses. It’s not aiming to thrill with spectacle, it’s very personal and I think that’s the most special a piece of theater can be. It’s made to be savored. It’s rewarding and it’s the kind of thing you’ll always remember seeing.
But if all that fails to bring in an audience: it’s freaking hilarious. It’s hard to juggle comedy and pathos, but when you do it makes the comedy all that much funnier.
— Mario Gambino, Dad

The Vision

Director Shayna Carney didn't originally have this version of the show in mind before auditions happened. The most rewarding part of this process was getting to see these particular actors bring this show to life. We went into auditions with a completely different view of how this show was going to go, but everything changed when* we got our actors. They bring such a new and creative life to it and it has been amazing watching that unfold.

A big part of this production is that fact that it's real. It's relatable. People watching it will definitely be able to connect with the characters during this show, maybe even a handful of times throughout. "I proposed this show because I love capturing raw moments on stage and making the audience feel like they are a fly-on-the-wall to a family that probably resembles them," says Shayna. 

People should come see the show because it provides such an intimate look into each character’s life that it almost makes you feel as if every scene is an intrusion — no moment is one that the audience should normally be able to witness.
— Oren Merhav, Assistant Director

Assistant Director Oren Merhav (Sophomore, Biomedical Engineer) expressed a similar sentiment. "My favoite part of this show is the absolute rawness. There is no part of the characters' lives that is off limits, and everything done on stage is as real as it can get in a performance setting."

So there you have it, folks. You Got Older is the La La Land of Rutgers Theatre right now - you HAVE to see it so you can find out if you like it or not. That's a terrible analogy, but I just wanted to throw in on a completely new social media platform that I was really not a fan of that movie. Anyway, here's ** the link to tickets.  Don't miss out!

"People should come see You Got Older because it is the perfect intersection of the banal and unconventional. There's a familiarity about the story that you feel comfortable in, yet there's always this underlining discomfort, whether it be visually uncomfortable, physical, intimate, or just plain awkwardness. There are so many levels to Mae's life that become clear through the characters around her, and every single moment, no matter how simple it may seem on the surface, is an important glimpse into who she is." - Krystina Matos, Mae

* [the fire nation attacked] [don't tell me you didn't think of this because then you'd be a liar]

**wonderwall.