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‘Cabaret’ and ‘Ragtime’ make Top 10 lists for 2018

Julie Cooper | January 10, 2019

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"Texas State’s production of “Ragtime” is not only a beautiful, moving and important piece of musical theater on its own, but it is also a powerful reminder of an oft-overlooked show that has aged into a crucial commentary on present-day America." - Andrew J. Friedenthal
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"This is perhaps the finest, most rethought production of this classic I have ever had the privilege to watch," says Franke Benge about "Cabaret."

As 2018 ended and the new year began, the Texas State Department of Theatre and Dance landed in a couple of Top 10 lists for the year’s best productions. 

Austin American-Statesman theatre critic Andrew J. Friedenthal included two university plays among the best local productions. 

“Ragtime,” ranked at No. 2 with Friedenthal writing: “I walked away from ‘Ragtime’ at Texas State in tears, though in this case they were tears of joy. I have enjoyed ‘Ragtime’ ever since seeing it in its initial Broadway run, and I’ve long believed it is a better musical than it’s given credit for. This production showed why — it’s a show about turbulent times in America that debuted during a relatively stable period.” 

The play was directed by Michael Rau with costumes by Marissa L. Menezes, scenic designer Brandon M. Newton, and lighting by Annalise V. Caudle. The cast included Anna Uzele, Ben Toomer, Emma Hearn and Trevor Berger. 

“Ragtime” helped launch the career of numerous students as Marissa Menezes is now costume coordinator at The Public Theatre in New York City, while Annalise Caudle is the assistant lighting design intern at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. In addition, Uzele went straight from graduation into the Broadway cast of the Tony Award-winning revival of “Once on This Island.”

No. 10 on the critic’s list was “Cabaret” on stage in November. Friedenthal wrote: “The Texas State musical theater program, headed by Kaitlin Hopkins, has produced one home run after another these past few years, with timely productions of classic shows that resonate as much politically and socially as they do emotionally. Though there have been a number of productions of “Cabaret” of late, both in Austin and elsewhere, Texas State’s version captured the intense anger of our current political moment and tied it to the script’s dire warnings against fascism and antisemitism.” 

Writing for the Broadway World website, critic Franck Benge put both “Ragtime” and “Cabaret” in his No. 4 slot for Austin’s top 10. He also lauded Hopkins and called out the performers, who he said, “will be names of note in the years ahead.”  

“Cabaret” was directed by Tom Delbello, with choreography by Jacob Burns and Beau Harmon. The cast included Nick Eibler, Logan Rae, John Fredrickson, Grayson Samuels, and Anna Rose Daugherty. Notably, the entire creative team (directors, designers, and choreographers) was comprised of students, a first for a departmental production at the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre. 

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