MTS showcases talent with Summer Cabaret
With its annual show, MTS kicks off the post-exam term of Pimm’s drinking in Founders quad with their ‘Summer Cabaret’. Orbital sends its resident photographer Jessie Beach-Thomas to investigate the action and interviews Violaine Brunelin, a member of the production team.
Jessie’s take: ‘Colourful, glittery- everything you would expect from a musical!’
From watching Summer Cabaret, a show directed by Max Harris and presented by both Pippa Gentry and Matthew Siveter, I was very impressed. It is clear to see why so many of MTS’s shows have been sold out throughout the year. MTS take pride in their inclusivity, with both auditioned roles and full cast numbers that do not require any auditioning. If you aren’t into the performing side of things, there is plenty of opportunity for students to get involved with directing, auditioning, choreography and tech.
Cabaret included some selected songs from productions that were performed earlier in the year, including the finale of ‘Into the Woods’ and Seasons of Love from ‘Rent’, to name but a few. The hosts of the show did a spectacular job considering the two days they had to prepare for the show. The level of energy and emotion poured into the show by every member of the cast was phenomenal. Busy cast performances contrasted and complemented the passionate solos. Another element that stood out to me was the impressively quick costume changes and the variety of costumes in the show. The running theme throughout the show was the ratio of men to women, with the hosts commenting that the 14 men in the cast made up the “entire male population on campus”. The female cast certainly owned the stage with their rendition of Legally Blonde’s ‘Positive’.
The show raised money for a charity named ‘HEART’, standing for ‘Harry and Edward’s Aspiration Raising Trust’. The charity was set up in memory of two boys, known by a member of the MTS cast, who passed away within weeks of each other. The flashbacks to the year’s production and the touching leavers number from all the performing finalists gave the show a bitter-sweet ending but one that reminded audience members to be “looking forward to the next” year of MTS.
Interview with Violaine Brunelin, member of the Summer Cabaret production team:
What are the biggest challenges when putting on Summer Cabaret?
Because Summer Cabaret is such a big show, with quite a large amount of people involved, co-ordinating everyone can be quite a challenging thing. The show is designed to make over 70 people showcase their talents on stage, with the help of a large band and a tech team. Sometimes communication can be hard when it is really important to get everyone to be on the same page at all times. That is why every single member of the production team is absolutely invaluable, as they are always on top of things and make sure that everyone knows what is going on and what they should be doing. We don’t necessarily see all the work that they have put in translated on stage, but if they weren’t here, the show couldn’t be!
What is the best number in the show and why?
It’s really hard to pick a favourite or to choose the ‘best’ numbers in the show, because the performances are all so incredibly varied and diverse. From full company numbers to solos, from quartet to dance troop or from brand new numbers to numbers that were in MTS’s shows this year, it just never stops changing and I think that’s one of the best things about Summer Cabaret. I would still have to mention our four soloists this year, James Fisher, Emma Twomlow, Ellie Smit and Pippa Gentry, as their performances were absolutely unforgettable, and amazing every single night and shows us how incredibly talented the students at this university are.
Who has the best costumes in the show?
With a great range of different types of costumes, one for every number, it should be hard to decide which ones are the best, but one number immediately comes to mind. In the opening of Act 2, Freak Flag, everyone was dressed like fairy tale characters. We had a gnome, ugly sisters, the three blind mice, all sorts of fairies, pirates and animals. It was pretty amazing and somewhat hilarious thing to see. Finally, we can’t talk about costumes without mentioning the amazing Daisy Horan, MTS’s publicity officer, who always has the best ideas and the best costumes. She sometimes even makes them for herself or for others in need, and she is always willing to lend people bits and pieces for their costumes. I’m pretty sure the majority of all the costumes in Summer Cabaret belonged to her!
What are some top tips for when something goes wrong in a show?
There is one thing to keep in mind: the show must go on. No matter what. That is the rule. In such a show, things are bound to go wrong at one point or another but when they do, the worst reaction possible is to stop what you’re doing while you’re on the stage or to make it obvious. The idea is to keep going as if nothing was wrong and, in most cases, the audience won’t even notice that something was wrong in the first place. If they do notice, at least you have still performed your best and won’t regret anything. As MTS’s famous motto goes ‘Strong and wrong’ is the way to go.
What would you say to those who are considering getting involved with MTS in the future?
Just do it. I promise you won’t regret it. Ultimately, if you enjoy performing arts, you will find something to do with MTS. There are so many aspects to it, from being a performer to being a crew member. You will always be welcome, there is an extraordinary amount of love between everyone in the society and we truly are a big family. I can guarantee that shows like Summer Cabaret will be the most intense, busy and best weeks of your life!