Western Courier

“The Underground Cabaret”steals the show

Tea Wheat, Staff Writer

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“The Underground Cabaret” is a talent showcase in honor of Professor Maughan McMurdie. The Dorthy and Maughan McMurdie scholarship began in 2004 by alumni Don and Kay Norton.The scholarship was founded to honor the many years of life changing service that Maughan McMurdie gave to Western Illinois University, and the Macomb community. McMurdie was a Professor of Fine Arts for 23 years at Western Illinois University, directed for Western’s summer musical theatre, and additionally sang in opera productions.  Maughan McMurdie’s legacy continues to live on through this scholarship, which is awarded to two Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) majors who are exceptional representatives of the BFA program.

This year’s recipients are Sam Anderson (Senior) and Libby Crawford (Junior); these recipients have both been involved in the Fine Arts department at Western, showing their dedication and love for the Fine Arts. This years Underground Cabaret was presented on Friday February 2 , and Saturday February 3  in the Simpkins Theatre. Constructed by an amazing group, the Cabaret was an absolute success. The audience was comprised of people of all ages, majors, and of both Western Illinois University students and Macomb residents. The production consisted of multiple musical theatre pieces, showcasing the outstanding talent of those in the Fine Arts Department at Western Illinois University. 

While this show was successful due to the talent that it showcased, I greatly appreciated how aspects of social justice were craftily weaved into the production. Whether it was done intentionally or by grand design, this was a very powerful aspect of the show as well.  During the performance of “When You Say Vegas” there were many references to women’s rights, which as a woman, made me very pleased. Additionally, there was activism and support for the LGBTQA+ community, which was shown in a number of acts, but especially highlighted during the performance of “Musical Theatre Boys.” The show covered a wide variety of topics and emotions, going from serious to hilarious in a heartbeat.  The final song, “You Will Be Found” was such a beautiful and powerful piece.

I feel this song conveyed a message of hope, understanding, and belonging that so many people (especially college students) need. The song itself addressed the issue of feeling alone, but reminded audience members that “You Will Be Found.” Toward the end of this song not only were the performers on stage singing, but voices from the back of the room began to accompany them, as the entire cast joined on stage to sing this final piece together.

The choir of voices from all around, singing such a powerful song truly felt as though the music was reaching out and hugging the entire audience.  

“The Underground Cabaret” was an astonishing production and displayed the talent of the entire cast. Audience members enjoyed many different emotions, styles of dance, and music genres. This showcase was a very strong representation of the talent that lies within the Bachelor of Fine Arts students at Western Illinois University, which often goes unnoticed- but was brought to the full attention of the audiences both Friday and Saturday evening.

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“The Underground Cabaret”steals the show