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SPIN’s cabaret explores the shadows

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SPIN’s cabaret explores the shadows

Orchesis members Helen Roets (‘21), Katherine McKeown (‘22), and Elizabeth Hand (‘21) line up before performing “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago” in SPIN Theater’s Musical Cabaret.

Orchesis members Helen Roets (‘21), Katherine McKeown (‘22), and Elizabeth Hand (‘21) line up before performing “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago” in SPIN Theater’s Musical Cabaret.

Sophie Nall (‘22) | Chips

Orchesis members Helen Roets (‘21), Katherine McKeown (‘22), and Elizabeth Hand (‘21) line up before performing “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago” in SPIN Theater’s Musical Cabaret.

Sophie Nall (‘22) | Chips

Sophie Nall (‘22) | Chips

Orchesis members Helen Roets (‘21), Katherine McKeown (‘22), and Elizabeth Hand (‘21) line up before performing “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago” in SPIN Theater’s Musical Cabaret.

Sophie Nall, Staff Writer

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SPIN Theater’s annual musical theater cabaret, held in collaboration with Orchesis, took place on Sat., Oct. 20 in the atrium of the Center for the Arts. The performers stood on a small stage, singing and dancing to a selection of pieces chosen from a variety of musicals and other theatrical work.

This year’s theme was “After Dark,” and the song selections ranged from the sinister showstopper “Life After Life” to “Dracula the Musical,” to the lighthearted and comical “Let’s Misbehave” from “Anything Goes.”

“The show deals with a lot of themes that [the creative team] takes great interest in,” SPIN Creative Director Noah Tiegs (‘20) said. “Light and dark, good and evil, a lot of these dichotomous themes that we’ve gotten to explore, as well as some of these things that we don’t necessarily want to talk about — [things] that we leave in the dark.”

The show’s risqué atmosphere was epitomized by the show stopping “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago.” This was a collaborative act, featuring six performers from SPIN, alongside dancers from Orchesis. The song featured the “Six Merry Murderers of the Winneshiek County Jail,” and throughout the number, each woman candidly described the murder that landed her in prison.

Kelsey Chang (‘20) | Photo Bureau
Janet Irankunda (‘19) performs “I Know Where I’ve Been” from “Hairspray” in the SPIN Theater Cabaret.

Throughout the monologues, Orchesis dancers took the floor, reenacting each scene as described by the “murderess.” Each performer wore only black and red, as well as a pair of fishnet tights. Their performance closed act one of the cabaret.

During the second act was a performance of “Don’t Tell Mama” from “Cabaret.” Vivian Kampschroer (‘22) acted the role of Sally Bowles and walked on stage in a large sparkling robe. In this role, Kampschroer revealed to the audience that her mother did not know her occupation of a dancer at a nightclub.

As she unbuttoned her robe, her costume was revealed: lacy shorts, fishnet tights, and a black corset. Her piece was performed in a burlesque-style, with an air of sarcastic comedy, which drew laughs from the audience. This number aired on the sexual side of the “After Dark” theme.

SPIN Theater Managing Director and cabaret co-director Anna Becker (‘19) thought that the show was appropriate for the season.

“[After Dark] allowed us to do sort of spooky themed things as we are near Halloween,” Becker said. “But also some fun, raunchy songs that we haven’t had the chance to put into our [past] cabarets.”

An integral feature of the cabaret was the element of dance, brought by Orchesis. The collaboration between SPIN and Orchesis for this event is a new addition to the cabaret.

“SPIN contacted me [at] the beginning of this year and asked if this would be something we’d be interested in,” Co-facilitator of Orchesis Grace Larsen (‘19) said. “As Orchesis has recently become a co-curricular group we decided [it would be] great to work with another group on campus.”

Tiegs was impressed with Orchesis after watching them perform last year and that experience made him want to collaborate on a project with the dance group.

Kelsey Chang (‘20) | Photo Bureau
Garret Baumler (‘20) and Zane Larson (‘19) perform the duet “Better with a Man” from “Gentlemen’s Guide.”

“I was so amazed by the talent that Orchesis put on that stage, not just in terms of dancing, but we need to remember that they choreograph their own pieces so that’s all from students 110 percent,” Tiegs said. “I was so struck with that, and by the emotion which they put into their dance. It was a means of storytelling that I don’t know that I had ever experienced like that before.”

Orchesis performed in multiple numbers at the cabaret, including “Sugar Daddy” from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “The Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago,” and a combined performance piece that featured two songs and a duet of dancers. Bethany Larson (‘19) and Haley Steffen (‘19) choreographed this emotional piece. It discussed mental health issues through the songs “Lifeboat” from “Heathers” and “Lost in the Waves” from a contemporary song cycle called “Out of Our Heads.” The groups met with Luther Counseling Services to get input on how to authentically and sensitively communicate these ideas. Tiegs discussed the significance of this piece.

“[These songs discuss] mental health and the challenges that can go along with that when you’re in a tumultuous, often new situation,” Tiegs said. “Especially at those times of change in our lives.”

The cabaret is the first SPIN Theater event of the year, with many more to come. Tiegs shared some of the other upcoming SPIN events.

“SPIN is already working on the one act play festival in conjunction with the [Visual and Performing Arts] department.” Tiegs said. “The other event, which SPIN has become somewhat notorious for, is the 1440-Minute Musical, which is a musical that is rehearsed and performed within 24 hours with very little sleep.”

As SPIN looks forward to the upcoming months, Tiegs recognized SPIN’s desire to be inclusive to all members of the Luther community regardless of experience.

“SPIN, by its nature, is a group that incorporates students of all different majors,” Tiegs said. “We are celebrating all different levels of engagement in theater, people who are majors and people who are coming out and doing theater for their first time.”

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