In the spring of my senior year in high school, I auditioned for the BFA/BA programs at 14 schools. Every weekend was a cross-country flight or a whirlwind of unifieds. One weekend, my auditions took place at the Freud Playhouse, where I strutted my stuff for the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television. Everything about that day came flooding back the moment I stepped through the doors on my way to see Reprise! Theatre Company's current production of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, now playing at the Freud Playhouse.
In this classic musical, we're introduced to a host of colorful characters from the glamorously asexual Emcee to a member of the rising Nazi party. Perhaps the most famous of all is the star of the Kit Kat Klub, the cabaret within Cabaret, Fraulein Sally Bowles. Sally is a woman who has made it her job to make everything she dreams of come true. In the midst of her escapades with an American novelist named Cliff Bradshaw, she finds herself in a sticky situation that she effortlessly glides out of (not without consequences, of course).
As I sat watching Cabaret, I couldn't help but be transported back to that tumultuous time in my life when I, like Sally, thought that anything was possible and felt an overwhelming sense of possibility for the future; I was also reminded of the cost of this excitement and the nights I spent in my room trolling Facebook and reading about who was accepted to which college while I waited to get my fat envelopes. I was reminded of the thrill of finding an acceptance in the mailbox and all the empty frozen yogurt cups from the pity parties I threw myself upon rejection.
I felt a certain kinship to Sally Bowles (played brilliantly by Lisa O'Hare, a star on the rise in American musical theater). I understood her unyielding drive towards her goal of stardom. It's a drive I shared in my fight for admission into the program of my choice. In retrospect, there was a lot I could have done differently and that might have yielded better results, and I'm sure there are some choices that Sally made and regretted. But ultimately Sally and I ended up in the places we belong. I'm thriving in my third year at USC, and Sally is singing her heart out at the Kit Kat Klub every night.
Whatever life has to offer, it's a wild ride and the dreams you come in with are rarely the dreams you leave with. I wanted to go to college in the East. Instead, I stayed home. Sally wanted to have a delicious affair with no strings attached, but she comes to a fork in the road and chooses to leave the only man who ever truly loved her. I try to keep things in perspective with a simple phrase: "Life is a cabaret, ol' chum. Come to the cabaret."
Zach's Tips: • Reprise Theatre Company offers a Rush Club (http://reprise.org/pages/get-tickets/rush-club.html) for students under 25 years of age. • Parking in Westwood is a hassle, so go for an on-campus lot next to the Playhouse. • There are tons of great restaurants right in the neighborhood, so make it an evening out!