Last Night at the Cabaret

Life is a Cabaret, old chum

The Dan School of Drama and Music has raised the curtain on its Fall Major – Last Night at the Cabaret Solitaire, an original musical comedy review. The Cabaret Solitaire is a fictitious nightclub/cabaret that celebrates glam and camp, offering a home to anyone who has ever felt like they don’t fit in.

“When I was asked to direct the fall show for the DAN School, I decided that I would create a show, rather than stage an existing script,” says Grahame Renyk, Lecturer, Dan School of Drama and Music. "I wanted to see if I could reverse the traditional order of events where typically, you pick a script and then you hold auditions to find people who can fit (or at least bend into) those roles. Instead, I wanted to see if I could start by choosing a cast and then create a show that would fit them.”

In the Cabaret Solitaire, Renyk says the audience will see comedy sketches, intimate ballads, dance pieces, and full-on production numbers. The show is a wild mixture of materials performed by a beautiful mixture of artists. “I love the musical revue format for its flexibility, but also for the connection it builds between the performers and the spectators. For me, musical revues are all about gathering in a room to share some songs and laughter.”

The show features arrangements of hit songs such as Adele's Someone Like You, and Fleetwood Mac's Landslide as well as tunes from favourite musicals like Cabaret and Chicago. It features killer vocals, hilariously dumb jokes, wild dance numbers, and even a drag queen or two. There are more than 100 Queen's students working on the show both on stage and behind the scenes in costuming, sound and lighting design, choreography, music direction, and more.

“The name of the place is partly inspired by all the slightly nonsensical French cabaret names of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cabaret Solitaire just had a nice ring to it; although, as folks will discover during the show, it also holds some significance beyond that.”

Renyk says he was inspired to direct the show for several reasons.

“Directing a show at Queen’s is different from directing professionally in one key regard. Here, my primary responsibility is as a teacher. I am still thinking as an artist when I direct, but my priority is to provide learning opportunities and mentor students through the process. We’ve set the bar quite high creatively with this project, but I’ve also tried to help the students meet, and often completely clear that bar. Watching students challenge themselves to overcome fears and uncertainties, to embrace failures, and to keep striving to learn and grow – very little is more inspiring than that.”

As for what he hopes to accomplish, Renyk says he wants all students involved to feel like they’ve done good work and that they’ve managed to push themselves past what their capacities were prior to beginning the project.

"I also think the show is going to be a hilarious and super fun time for the audience, and I hope everyone finds it a refreshing and joyful night at the theatre.  The whole event is meant to be a reminder of why gathering together to hear some songs and tell some jokes together is so vital to not only surviving, but thriving as human creatures.”

Last Night at the Cabaret Solitaire is running in the Rotunda Theatre on the Queen’s campus in the Theological Hall from November 14 to November 19. Tickets can be purchased on the website