March 20, 2019 | 29° F

Cabaret Theatre breaks down gender roles in one-night engagement


Lead roles in musical theater are typically paired with physical pre-requisites such as height, weight and gender. On Friday, Jan. 27, Cabaret Theatre on Douglass campus produced a two-show event where actors had the opportunity to perform musical numbers they may not ever be able to again.

“Role of a Lifetime: A Miscast Concert” broke down the barriers of social norms and allowed actors to explore a medley of Broadway Blockbuster numbers they would normally not be allowed to participate in by swapping the gender of the characters.

“There’s a lot of great songs that people will never sing just because of their gender, and I think that’s stupid,” said Ajit J. Matthews, coordinator of “Role of a Lifetime: A Miscast Concert” and a regular name at Cabaret Theater.

A cast of four men left all inhibitions at the door and performed songs from “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” including the infamous bend-and-snap. A powerful ensemble of women showed the audience just how dominant females can be on and off stage.

The show was not technically advanced, with minimal lighting cues and a bare set. Upon the audience’s entry, the stage held 10 chairs spanning across the back wall, each paired with a water bottle for the actors to drink from between numbers. A table laid with intriguing props including hats, coffee, a Malibu Rum bottle and a fuzzy fur vest split the chairs.

Throughout the evening, the actors stepped out of their comfort zones in large ensemble numbers as well as duets and solos that featured content ranging from silly to raunchy. Each cast member had the opportunity to wow the audience with their fun, over-the-top choices and impressive vocals.

Meanwhile, “off-stage,” the actors would sit in their chairs on stage and enjoy the performances of their cast mates. The audience was encouraged to laugh, cheer and shout out loud. The room felt less like a formal concert and more like an inside joke that everyone was a part of.

Ajit hopes that Cabaret will produce a show like this again.

“If someone wants to take the initiative and go for it,” he said. “There’s a ton of songs that are still left to do.”

The show was able to push the audience out of seeing gender as black and white, but rather as a fluid social construct that can be altered in a fun way.

Annalisa DeSeno

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