San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Delays in construction affects ‘Cabaret’

The theatre department has been impacted by construction
Illustration by Alexandra Dunlop

The Don Powell Theatre and the New Prebys Theatre have been under construction since June 2021. 

Some say the project is bringing disturbance to San Diego State University’s Department of Theatre and their upcoming production “Cabaret.”  

When the theatre department found out that the delays of construction were going to affect them, they had to look “for many solutions when we found out that the construction of the new spaces and renovations were behind schedule,” said Stephen Brotebeck, director and choreographer of “Cabaret.” 

“Cabaret,” a musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb, will be an immersive experience that will transport the audience back to the 1920s and ‘30s in pre-Nazi Berlin during the Weimar Republic.  

“Cabaret” discusses societal issues, which according to Brotebeck, are current conflicts in the United States.  

The theatre department was forced to change the venue and produce it within a shorter period of time. 

“We were going to be the first production in the newly renovated space, and we had started the design process,” Brotebeck said. “We had to reconfigure the vision of the show and the design.”  

Set designer Mathys Herbert noticed the effects of the construction when he had to shift his designs. 

“Had we known this was going to happen from the beginning, I could have just started designing from the beginning,” Herbert said. “(Production) was more of the last-minute change. That is the hard part.” 

The Main Stage has become the new venue for this production, causing the theatre department to become creative.

“It’s certainly a challenge to have less play space and requires adaptability. As theatre people I think we naturally just make things work,” said Van Angelo, assistant music director of “Cabaret.” 

The musicians that bring this production together experienced their own challenges, such as not having an orchestra pit or enough space to play live.

This challenge, however, did not stop the theatre department from coming up with a way to have music.

“They are building a platform for us, about eight feet in the air,” Robert Meffe, the music director of “Cabaret,” said. This platform will be made in a safe manner for the orchestra to play live during the production.  

Meffe emphasized the importance of music and how it can transform the way one sees a musical.

 “The orchestra is integral to telling the story of the piece. It’s like another actor on stage, but the difference is that an actor can say a line and not mean it,” Meffe said. “Music never lies. The way music makes you feel, (it) cuts straight to your heart.” 

 The theatre department is not the only department experiencing issues with the construction. 

Some students in the music department said they have been affected by the loud noises and disruptions it brings to class.

“Often we hear the construction and it is loud enough that we have to stop class for a moment,” said Emily Mahumed, a senior music performance major.  

Despite the negative feeling about the construction and its impact on the theatre and music department, some remain optimistic for the upcoming performing arts district.

“The construction isn’t forever and (it) will yield something good for us overall,” Angelo said.  

According to SDSU in an email statement, the delays have been caused by “supply chain issues and the ability to secure specialized construction material and equipment.”

The project is anticipated to be completed by April 2023.

Angelo, who was not able to experience the Don Powell Theatre, expressed excitement about this new theatre and is looking forward to new memories.

“This new space means all my memories begin with this change,” Angelo said. “It’s exciting to think about the changes that will come and push the work in the department in a different direction.” 

Despite the delays in the production of “Cabaret,” both Meffe and Angelo believe the play will offer the audience a unique perspective into the world of 1930s Germany. 

“When people are applauding the actors, applaud extra hard because there are 100 other people working to make this magic happen,” Meffe said.  

“Cabaret” will be shown April 28, 2023 through May 4, 2023 and can be purchased here.  

About the Contributor
Jennifer Aguilar, '23-24 Mundo Azteca Editor
Jennifer Aguilar is a junior at San Diego State and a first-generation transfer student. She formerly attended San Diego Mesa College where she was the News Editor and the Editor-in-Chief of The Mesa Press. Her goal is to become a bilingual broadcast journalist for a news or entertainment outlet. She also enjoys filming and editing videos for her youtube channel with over 40k views (as of now).
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Delays in construction affects ‘Cabaret’