Senior Interviews: Back-Stage Edition!

Almost there, true believers! University Commencement is TODAY, which means that the class of 2012 will officially blow this proverbial popsicle stand. Nevertheless, we here at Inside Cabaret still have work to do up until that bell on Old Queens gets rung incessantly, so away we go with a very special edition of the Cabaret Cuestionnaire!


Alex is finishing up his Ed.M. with the Graduate School of Education here at Rutgers. While not teaching math to teenagers, Alex can be found being an all around good guy, helping out in any way he can down at the Cabaret. He was dragged unwittingly to the theatre by former managing director Erik Stratton, fulfilling a shortage we had of able labor. Still, we weren’t able to get him on-stage as a performer, but he sure did love pushing the buttons in the booth during multiple productions over the last two years!

Here we see Alex reppin’ Cabaret in what appears to be a shark fight.

– Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions:

  • Helped make a cake with Erik for one performance of rabbit hole (I think after that they bought cakes)
  • Pushed the light button a bunch of times for Cloud 9 and sewed the head back on the doll
  • Assistant lighting designer for Spelling Bee
  • Box Office Manager along with Tobi/Webmaster for 2011-2012
  • Stage Manager/Lighting/Sound for Directors Showcase 2011
  • Technical Stage Manager for Eleemosynary

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

Northern New Jersey, but I’ll probably end up living somewhere else

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

Definitely Neilson, although Stuff Yer Face is pretty good

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

I’m not sure I own socks that match

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

Parks and Recreation

Always prepared, Alex came to Rutgers Day… prepared… with food… (Editor’s Note: It’s late.)

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

Well, it would have to be someone with eyes…

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

Math Education

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Expos….so far that’s the only question I haven’t had to think about at all

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Someone with a job

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

I don’t think I’m going to grow up

– What would you like to be when you grow up?

Someone with a job at a college

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?


Alex never f**ks up the ratio.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

Streamers, cause it’s when I found out Cabaret existed

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

Working thermostats. Second question I didn’t have to think about

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

Definitely not working thermostats!

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

Rent, I think LTC did it a while ago, but I didn’t get to see it

– What makes Cabaret special?

Lots of stuff: The unisex bathroom, leaky roof, the pool, only one working light bulb in the prop/dressing rooms, but mostly the amount of time and work everyone spends on shows without getting anything back for it

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

It turns out, I like other stuff besides math.

Like being pushed around. In a good way.


What can we say about Nicole Reich? Without her, the place literally would not work. Her tenure as Technical Director and constant involvement in lighting and design for the majority of the shows over the last 4 years has made her into a crucial creative entity at Cabaret and at uptown rival LTC. We’d ask her how many sleepless hours she spent at Cabaret, but we don’t want to get punched. And she’ll punch you. She will. Not kidding. We’ve seen it. Seriously. Don’t f**k with her. She’ll annihilate your face with a stare, and then pummel your bare skull until it’s gelatin, which she’ll then scoop up and use to shine the lens on the Source 4s hanging above the stage.

Nicole living dangerously in the Cabaret Sky.

– Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions

  • Lighting Designer, Elegies
  • Sound Designer, I Love You Because…
  • Technical Director, 2010-2011 (Streetcar, ILYB, Rabbit Hole, Cloud 9, Spelling Bee)
  • Lighting Designer, Godspell
  • House Manager, 2009-2010
  • Stage Manager, The Cocktail Hour
  • Stage Manager, “Up, Out & Away!” (1st ever original play festival)

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

I’m from Piscataway, currently living in Edison, and hope to live in New York at some point in my life. Not forever, but for a while.

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

You can never go wrong with Stuff Yer Face.

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

Same color. And white. I’m boring.

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

Doctor Who

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

No comment. (Editor’s Note: See above)

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

Some science thing (aka genetics)

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Orgo. Hands down.

Here we see Nicole doing something important.

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A doctor.

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

In theater. Somehow.
– What would you like to be when you grow up?


– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?


– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?


– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

The heat!

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

Oh man. Well 427 wasn’t black, and the hallway wasn’t blue. The lobby was still red and we had an enormous ticket booth, and a pay phone taking up space. (Why is everything about paint colors?) More importantly, Cabaret is putting up better quality shows and has better people running it.

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

I don’t know?

– What makes Cabaret special?

It’s a great community of people, who are willing to let you try new things and experiment. You make lasting friends at Cabaret.

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

College (theatre) is all well and good, but sometimes my sanity comes first.

What stage of insanity is this?


You ever open up a Cabaret playbill or look at a Cabaret set or visit the Cabaret website or walk past the Cabaret marquis or open your eyes ever? Well, odds are that you saw some wonderful artwork and design by the magnificent Ms. Hanna Canfield. As Cabaret’s resident “scenic artist,” Hanna has drawn, painted, stenciled, sponged, and/or stickered some piece of every show since Lieutenant of Inishmore(for those counting, that goes all the way back to Fall 2008!). Everything from set pieces to posters to show logos to a giant scarlet R on the floor forRevue: Parte Deux, Hanna’s the go-to-gal for drawling.

Also, she regularly received college credit for working with bovine and other farm animals.

Hanna “drawing” the logo for Streamers!

Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions

Scenic Artist, Logo artist, Ruth in the SH!T PLAY in last year’s Original Play Festival, and a LOT of miscellaneous tech work

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

I was from Connecticut…now Florida as of December. Hopefully I will eventually call Colorado or Hawaii home.

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

Stuff Yer Face.

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

Same-color as long as they’re a fun pattern.

Hanna in the Cabaret lockerroom, preparing for the SH!T play with fellow Cabbies Casey and Sir Nick (who exchange-studented back to England).

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

A cartoon probably. I’d like to see an animated version of myself, and voice acting would be fun.

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

George Lucas.

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

I’m an Animal Science major, Pre-vet option, biology minor.

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Orgo, hands down.

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be an archaeologist, paleontologist, or marine biologist. I really like science.

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

Definitely going to be a veterinarian! I’m still deciding on which vet school to choose, but I’m 99% sure I’m going to St. George’s University in Grenada this fall.

– What would you like to be when you grow up?

I want to be a veterinarian for shelter animals and for zoo animals. Ideally.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?

Dog Sees God.

Hanna with the cast of Dog Sees God, which was a cross between Peanuts and Slackers with an Acid cocktail thrown into the blender. And, apparently, mixed metaphors.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

Lieutenant of Inishmore.

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

More fake blood. We had so much of that freshman year. Where did it go?

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

I could probably write an essay on that, but for the sake of time, it got cleaner and more professional. But I’ve always loved it in any condition!

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

Honestly, I really don’t know a whole lot of shows. I just like painting and things.

– What makes Cabaret special?

It’s such a unique place. I love black box theatres, and I love that the space is so versatile.

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

I need to draw or paint something once in a while. It makes me a much happier person.

Especially rodents. They’re the best to draw. Always.


Click below for more interviews!

Three Lovely Ladies



A Letter to the class of 2012

One more post is coming, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s going to be a doozy! Stay tuned!

And happy graduation!


Spring Awakening – An Interview with the Director

Finally! Inside Cabaret does something that it promised it was going to do! We’ve done it! We interviewed Cabbie-award winning Farnaz Mansouri about her experience directing Spring Awakening at Cabaret! Like we said we would!

Related: Farnaz has adopted this as her Facebook profile picture.

Somewhere between finishing her senior year at Rutgers and serving as Cabaret Theatre’s Artistic Director and being a bad b**ch, Farnaz “Yeah Daddy” Mansouri found the time to direct a critically-acclaimed-so-far production of Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater’s Tony-Award winning musical. Really: people love it! So reserve your spot on the waiting list for tickets, because all them hotcakes be gone!!!

No more hotcakes for Kitty cats.

So check out the interview below, in which we discuss sad things, fun things, boys, girls, cats, musicals, and puberty! And be sure to check out Spring Awakening at Cabaret Theatre this weekend! Last three (3) performances!


Inside Cabaret: What was the best comment an audience member made last weekend?

Farnaz: I was overwhelmed by all the lovely things people said this weekend. [Cabaret Administrative Advisor] Matt Ferguson said some really lovely things about the production, which was amazing to hear.

The most touching comment hands down came from Dave Seamon, who said that watching the show felt like he was “watching a passion project movie”, and further continued saying not only how the show was injected with passion, but how alive each character was on stage. Those who know me know that I’m passionate about everything I do; the fact that this passion was able to resonate on stage, through each character, through the entire production, is something truly magical.

[Editor’s note: Check out Dave’s full review by clicking HERE!]

IC: And your parents? What did they say about the show?

Farnaz: My parents actually both really loved the show. They said they thought it was really beautiful, and my mom had really nice things to say about every person in the cast.

IC: Did she talk to them after the show?

Farnaz: My dad did! My mom is a little shy.

Shy Kitty.

IC: Your last directing position was on Streetcar Named Desire; how has this experience compared?

Farnaz: I went into Streetcar with no experience directing, so it was very much a learning experience for me. This time around, I went straight from being Artistic Director to director; and still, I found that it was just as much of a learning process. I had never worked on a musical before, so it was definitely challenging. In a great way.

IC: Why Spring Awakening? What was the thought process that went into proposing it and developing it?

Farnaz: To be completely honest, I wanted to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at first. There were many reasons I changed my mine.  First off, Cabaret Theatre always ends the year with a big name musical, and I have always been intrigued by musicals. I thought, “why the f**k not?”  Musicals allows for a certain amount of freedom, a boundless amount of creativity, which is liberating yet terrifying at the same time.

Who's Afraid of Virg-- Wait. This s**t is bananas.

I chose Spring Awakening because I thought it would be extremely challenging for two reasons. One, it’s so extremely popular and everyone has a preconceived notion about the show already. I wanted to break this idea of what the show should be.  Second, the transition period from adolescence to adulthood that the characters face is something that we [as college students] are facing as well.

IC: What’s the most important thing you as a director try to focus on when putting together a show?

Farnaz: As a director, I make sure to keep the big picture in mind, while attending to all the small details at the same time. Keeping the end product in mind takes a indescribable amount of clarity and focus, while attention to every single detail takes an indescribable amount of patience, understanding, and willingness to collaborate.  Finding the balance between these two different roles is the primary focus of the director.

IC: How has your vision evolved since first proposing this show? What role does your pro staff and the actors play in that evolution?

Farnaz: Without my staff and actors, my vision would remain just that: a vision. I was really lucky to have the best production staff and cast a director could ask for. Before I met with each member of the production staff, I had a few months to myself to really think through every aspect of the show, to figure out what I wanted from each scene, each character, and ultimately what I wanted from the entire show. I had specific visuals meticulously planned out.

In terms of bringing these visuals, emotions, and this story to life, it was collaboration with my staff that really allowed my vision to evolve into something clear, lifelike, and beautiful. After talking through my vision with each staff member, their input helped bring the show to a new level.  Carl’s musical direction, Sarah’s choreography, John’s lighting, Matt and Francesca’s set design/execution, Abby’s costumes, Allison’s perspectives, and all of Mike Bond’s help truly strengthened and amplified my original vision, and to them I am extremely grateful and appreciative.

Director Farnaz Mansouri & Musical Director Carl Phillips collaborating to paint the stage/each-other's-faces.

And then we added the actors. No matter how many times I direct, actors will ALWAYS surprise me. I was fascinated and inspired by the depths each actor was willing to go with his/her character. They each gave such life to each role; it turned the production into something electrifying.

IC: What was one of those surprising moments?

Farnaz: I mean there are a lot. One is definitely the moment when the actors have epiphanies about their characters and say things that you’ve been waiting to hear since day one. That’s pretty awesome. Another would be that rehearsal when everything unexpectedly falls into place and out of nowhere you have an amazing show 1.5 weeks before opening night. Is that too specific?

[Editor’s note: No.]

IC: Why should college audiences come see this show?

Farnaz: For the same reason they tune into their favorite show every week, or go see a movie; it’s the escape into another world, where our minds easily follow another story line focused around others. Our bodies are at rest, while our minds are entertained. Theatre happens to be all the more electrifying, because it’s live. And this show is just f**king amazing, lets be real.


So there it is. An interview with the legendary Farnaz Mansouri. Check back in tomorrow for an interview with members of the cast!!!

Also, here’s a gem of a picture of young Farnaz from her Cabbie-award winning performance as Mimi Schwinn in A New Brain:

You're Welcome. (Courtesy Rich Kowalski)

Get to Cabaret! See Spring Awakening! Do it! WOOOOO!

How I Learned To Drive: Part 1

How I Learned To Drive by Paula Vogel

T-Minus 2 Days

The set is done! Cabaret Theatre prides itself on the malleability of its black box performance space. Every show calls for a different arrangement of the seats, a different lighting grid, a different set design.

Cabaret Theatre in the buff

It’s especially awe-inspiring for frequent audience members, who often marvel that, somehow, the theatre is never used the same way twice. From waterfalls to court rooms to oversized picture frames to army barracks to bookshelves to old timey movie studios to full Victorian interiors, Cabaret’s Black Box can literally become anything. And that’s what makes it so special to do a show here.

Here are some pics from the final set build:

Crew hard at work

Fearless Managing Director Erik Stratton ventures down into the Cabaret Basement. Will he return? (yes, but will he ever be the same!?!??!!?!?!?!?!?)

Scenic Designer Hanna Canfield lives dangerously (i.e. - sans shoes)

And finally, after weeks and weeks of hard, tiring, frustrating, tedious labor, Tech Directors Matt Leddin and Meg King and their crew always pull together another awe-inspiring set:

I see a little silhouette of an RV... Scaramouch, scaramouch do you drive a winnebago!

We’ll continue our coverage of How I Learned To Drive tomorrow with an interview with Cabaret Theatre’s Artistic Director, Farnaz Mansouri. Topic of conversation: putting together a play, challenging ideas about sexuality and maturation, and chocolate kittens.

Here are some snapshots from tonight’s tech rehearsal!

Director Jordan Gochman and Marc Mills (Uncle Peck). They're sexy and they know it.

The illustrious Boris Van Der Ree preps for rehearsal by folding clothes.

Actors Acting (?)

Stephanie Van Huss, Marc Mills, and Arm.

Also, look for an article in the Inside Beat section of the Daily Targum tomorrow!

Stay tuned!