American River College’s production of “Cabaret,” won regional and national awards for its performance during the American College Theater Festival in Denver this February.
The show was one of three others chosen from 200 submissions in the northwestern United States.
Lead actor Elio Gutierrez,(Master of Ceremonies), and lead actress Kyra Britto, (Sally Bowles), both won awards for distinguished performance for an actor in a musical and distinguished performance for an actress in a musical respectively.
The show also garnered the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Citizens Artist Award for insisting that theatrical production is central to the community, national and international conversations on the campuses of higher education.
“Cabaret” is set in 1930s Berlin when the Nazi party began to rise to power and follows the consequences for the nightlife of the seedy Kit-Kat Klub. The musical concludes with the deaths of the major characters except for Sally Bowles.
“Germany was responsible, y’know, for the deaths of millions not just Jewish people, but people of color, gays and lesbian people, and people who had handicaps. They murdered them,” Director Nancy Silva said.
Silva and the cast wanted to make a production that would connect the lines between rising nationalism to fascism to the oppression and murder of minority groups according to Silva.
The play ran against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election and the candidacy of then presidential nominee Donald Trump, and sparked controversy amongst audience members even prompting some to leave the theatre, according to Silva.
“Whenever you make a political statement with a play you risk the ire of some people, but we went for it and it worked and that’s what this award is saying,” Silva said.
The resonance of the play was also remarked upon by the play’s stage manager Patrick O’Reilly.
“The show moved the audience to tears and then applause every night,” O’Reilly said. “It was the right show for the right time and it said a lot of things about society at the time.“
Both Silva and O’Reilly attributed the play success to the hard work of the cast and crew and their commitment which included re-opening the play in Denver for ACTF.
“I think the reason that we were so successful with [“Cabaret”] was because the students totally understood what they were saying with the play,” Silva said.
Corrections: Director Nancy Silva was originally referred to as just ‘Silva.’