Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department Presents ‘Cabaret’ Feb. 16-19 at Getz Theatre Center

As previously reported in this blog, the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department presents the musical Cabaret February 16 through 19 in the Courtyard Theatre of the Getz Theatre Center of Columbia College, located at 72 E. 11th Street in Chicago’s South Loop. This staged concert reading of the musical is part of the Theatre Department‘s 2021-22 Mainstage Season. For tickets, click here.

Elizabeth Swanson

This student production of the classic musical, with a book by Joe Masteroff and songs by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, is directed by Columbia College Theatre Department faculty member Elizabeth Swanson, who, as previously reported in this blog, is also artistic director of Chicago’s award-winning BoHo Theatre. Swanson has also worked with such Chicago companies as About Face Theatre, Underscore Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Swanson earned an MFA in Directing from the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Arts at Trinity College, Dublin.

First produced in 1966, Cabaret is the story of Cliff, a young American writer visiting Berlin shortly before the rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party to power in Germany. The story focuses on Cliff’s relationship with British cabaret singer Sally Bowles, a performer at the decadent Kit Kat Klub. The show also examines the relationship between Cliff’s landlady, a middle-aged German woman, and her Jewish suitor – a relationship threatened by the growing power of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic agenda for Germany.

“The pandemic rages on, our republic stands in peril, and the Doomsday clock hovers at 100 seconds to midnight,” says Swanson in their director’s statement about Columbia’s new concert production of Cabaret. “Gen Z has perhaps more to say about the dangers of fascism than any generation since Cabaret premiered in 1966. Our concert presentation explores the ongoing terrors of racism and class struggle that have always defined America. Who is truly a citizen in this nation? Listen carefully, and the Kit Kat Klub will whisper the hard truth.”

Andra Velis Simon

The show’s creative team also includes faculty members Andra Velis Simon (music director) and Tommy Rivera-Vega (choreographer). Andra Velis Simon is currently the Columbia College Theatre Department’s Musical Theatre Practitioner in Residence. Outside of Columbia, she has worked extensively in Chicago and around the country as a music director, adapter/arranger, pianist, and vocal coach. Her work has been seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and New York University’s Skirball Center, both in New York City; the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky; the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass.; and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as with such Chicago companies as Chicago Children’s Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Theatre Wit, the Hypocrites, Steppenwolf, and Northlight Theatre. She is also the resident music director for Chicago’s Firebrand Theatre.

Tommy Rivera-Vega

Tommy Rivera-Vega, originally from Puerto Rico, has made Chicago his artistic home for the past 10 years. He is an ensemble member of Chicago’s Teatro Vista, and has also worked with the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, and Chicago Children’s Theatre in Chicago as well as the Paramount Theatre in Aurora and Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. In 2019, he was awarded the ALTA Award from the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance as Tommy Djilas in the Goodman Theatre’s The Music Man.