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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

March 29, 2010

Creating the Decadent Look of Cabaret’s Sets

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 10:58 am

By Julian Wiles and Stefanie Christensen, Set Designers for Cabaret

Director Marybeth Clark wanted us to start from scratch in creating the scenery and costumes for Cabaret and so instead of looking at other productions of this classic musical we went back to original sources.  Descriptions in Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin (on which Cabaret is based) were our start and of course we looked at images from 1920’s German and European cafes.  Also, from reading the script it was obvious there were two worlds in Cabaret . . . the real world of the rooming house, Cliff’s Spartan room, and the fruit shop.  The night club in the show, known as the Kit Kat Club was more of a fantastical world and a romanticized memory of how Cliff remembered this haven of hedonism.  And so we created two worlds scenically, the rooming house, Cliff’s room and the fruit shop were made to look as realistic as possible while we decided on a more abstract and dream like world for the Kit Kat Klub.  We speculated that perhaps the Kit Kat Club had once been a warehouse and from that idea came the idea to use reproduction 1920’s light bulbs as a backdrop.  To complete the look we used a variety of industrial materials from wire cages to chains and married these to traditional cabaret elements like a glitzy curtains and red velvet bentwood chairs.  Our hope is that we will be giving audiences a Kit Kat Klub like one they’ve never seen before but one in which Cliff and Sally would feel right at home.


1920’s light bulbs with wire cages. Note multiple tungsten elements.



Kit Kat Klub dancers in Cabaret.


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