RIT College of Liberal Arts and NTID Performing Arts co-present ‘Cabaret,’ Nov. 30–Dec. 2

Deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing student production puts unique spin on the Tony-award winning Broadway musical




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Mark Benjamin

Rochester Institute of Technology students, from left to right, Kendell Charles, Liam Dougherty, Molly Parker and Lexa Frail rehearse for upcoming performances of Cabaret, Nov. 30-Dec. 2. The show brings together deaf, hard of hearing and hearing actors to create a unique experience for theater-goers.

The unique blend of deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students performing on stage together will guarantee theater-goers a one-of-a-kind experience at the debut of the Tony-award winning classic Cabaret at Rochester Institute of Technology. The performance of the hit musical will run in Panara Theatre in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall, at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and 2 p.m. Dec. 1–2.   

The show, directed by Andy Head, visiting assistant professor, welcomes theater-goers to the top-secret Kit Kat Klub, where the music is loud, the dances are flashy and the party rages on. The club’s newest headliner, Sally Bowles, meets American writer Cliff Bradshaw and their lives become entwined. But, as Nazism spreads throughout Germany, questions and concerns continue to grow about how the club, its patrons, and Sally and Cliff—played by Kyle Buohl, a third-year ASL-English interpretation major from Boston—will fare. The show is not appropriate for children under 12.

“Though it takes place in a very specific era, Cabaret has a timeless feel to it,” said Head. “Set in Germany at the crossroads of the crumbling Weimer Republic and the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party, it shows us how people react to a rising story on the horizon. Some flee, some fight, some fall in line, and some ignore the problem. A story like Cabaret forces us to ask ourselves how we react when we see injustice spreading around us.

“In addition, we’ve changed the roles of many of the characters from hearing to deaf and the effects are far-reaching. It affects the characters, the way the story is told, and how the audience receives the story. Because of these conceptual changes, audiences will be treated to a truly new and unique Cabaret. On a daily basis, I am amazed by what our students can do. This show is challenging them in ways they might never have been challenged before onstage.”

This is Victoria Covell’s first foray into musical theater. She takes on the lead role of Sally Bowles.

“It has been a rich learning experience and I am loving it,” said Covell, a third-year graphic design major from Jacksonville, Ill. “I have had to learn to balance my time with school work and memorizing my lines. But it has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and learn how to be self-confident. I also love that I have been able to make new friends along the way.”

The show is co-presented by RIT’s College of Liberal Arts and NTID’s Performing Arts program.

Tickets can be purchased through RIT University Arenas and are $5 for students and senior citizens; $10 for RIT faculty/staff/alumni; and $12 for the general public. Tickets will also be sold at the door two hours before show time on performance days. American Sign Language interpreters will be available for all performances. For more information, call 585-475-4121.