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Eileen Hand, 

Now Playing @ Devonshire Playhouse 
About the show selection:

The production team, Christie (music director), Tony (choreographer) and I had talked about the show for a while, and we all wanted to do it. Christie has always loved the show, and Tony was really looking forward to choreographing the Kit Kat sequences, and had a very specific vision for that. What really drew me to the show is that I believe it’s genuinely “an actor’s show.” And if it’s an actor show, then it’s a director’s show.

Eileen’s approach to the rehearsal process for CABARET:

When we first started the rehearsal process, I told the cast and crew that “I don’t look at this as a musical, but as a play that happens to have music.” Most of the music in the show takes place in the cabaret, so you’re essentially going to the cabaret to watch it. The songs that are in the scenes, however, they could just as easily be spoken as lines. They’re written so well, they speak for themselves–they don’t even need the music. They’re true and honest words that actors can really speak, or sing, with a lot of integrity.

Director Eileen Hand tells us about the CABARET orchestra, on stage!

Typically, in most productions of Cabaret, the orchestra is on stage. But we’ve never done that before at Devonshire. We really felt like we had to get the orchestra up there—we wanted the orchestra to be involved with the actors, and they just couldn’t be involved from the floor. It became increasingly important the more we developed the show and the opportunities for interaction between actors and musicians. 

Casting CABARET:

I believe that 75-90% of directing is casting. And if you get the right cast, you are sailing. It was just a process of placing people into parts and having it fit perfectly–and from the wonderful actors we had come in for these roles, everyone fell into place perfectly. It made my job really easy, and made the rehearsal process very east. Everyone really did homework, came prepared, and were willing to take risks to take these roles to a deeper level. Everyone was so open to it. Our rehearsal process really worked more like a traditional play, not a musical, which I think flavored our production even more.  

What inspired you to present CABARET?

Very early in the rehearsal process, all of us really felt the relevance of this show. And while I am certainly disturbed by the relevance, it didn’t surprise me. It was a big part of why I was drawn to the show—because I think it’s always relevant. It’s always something that people have to be reminded of, to examine the things that are going on around them. Pay attention. There are a lot of people out there who just live their lives and don’t really see the world and what’s going on around them, like Sally Bowles. And I’ve known people–I’ve probably been that way at some point in my life, we all have–just living our lives and not realizing or thinking about what’s happening in the world right in front of us. 

What do you hope the audience takes away from this production?

I hope the audience can see, with these characters, how things like this can happen. I hope the audience can watch these characters’ experiences and say, “I didn’t think about that. I didn’t realize there were Germans that were not for this, but were just looking for a way to survive, who felt like they had no choice.” You want to ask “Why didn’t people get out?–just leave!” You want them to leave and be safe, but watching the show, you know that doesn’t happen–and understand how that can happen. It’s a really tragic thing, but you see how people come to believe what they believe, and why they make the choices they make, and endure the consequences.

CABARET director Eileen Hand discusses the adult content in the show:

The show is somewhat infamous for its sexuality, but the show’s sexuality really defines the time period. It was a decadent time. I think it also shows the underbelly of Germany–and it pairs with the Nazi movement, which at this period of time, is also the underbelly of society. The Kit Kat Club is this decadent, very sexual place, but it also sets up what’s coming because the Nazis really clamped down on it, and shut down all that decadence and indulgence. So you see both cultures, which start from the same position, and watch one slowly swallow the other.

CABARET director Eileen Hand on the actor/audience relationship in the show:

One of the beautiful things about this show is its ability to flip back and forth between breaking that fourth wall, and being in a scene. That’s one of the reasons we chose to build out this thrust stage platform, and then the cabaret itself is farther in the back. But all the while, you still have the Kit Kat girls coming forward into the audience’s space. I think it’s such a cool script in that way, you’re in the cabaret but then you’re in a scene. The audience forms these relationships with the different characters in different spaces, and the lines blur as the show goes on. 

Music in Theatre CHICAGO believes in the importance of promoting shows by publishing Director Notes and Cast Questions and Answers from their current and recent projects. Ticket links for productions are included.
Current Project:
'CABARET' (1998 Version)
Directed by Eileen Hand
Choreography by Tony Springs
Show Dates: 
June 3, 4, 5, 10, 11,12

Devonshire Playhouse
4400 Greenwood St., Skokie, IL


Upcoming Projects:

Music for Theatre Chicago Presents:

Spring Awakening

Book & Lyrics by Steven Sater
Music by Duncan Sheik
Based on the play by Frank Wedekind

September 8-10, 2016
7pm Curtain

Piven Theatre Space
Noyes Cultural Center
927 Noyes Street
Evanston, IL 60201

Jessica Sawyer, Director
Christie Chiles Twillie, Music Director

Spring Awakening
is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI),
Devonshire Playhouse Presents:

A Little Night Music

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler

Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick

Suggested by a Film by Ingmar Bergman
Originally Produced and Directed on Broadway by Harold Prince.

November 5,6; 12,13; 19, 20, 2016
Saturday Evening; 7pm
Sunday Matinee; 3pm

Directed & Music Directed by:
Christie Chiles Twillie

A Little Night Music
is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International(MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.