Paranormal production to possess Cab

by Eric Twardzik / Beacon Staff • April 12, 2012

Webcabaret
Quitman McBride (center) and others rehearse The Grim Cabaret.
Quitman McBride (center) and others rehearse The Grim Cabaret.

Vaudeville may be dead, but this weekend it will rise from the grave to haunt the Little Building’s Cabaret. 

Promoted as “An Evening of Paranormal Vaudeville,” The Grim Cabaret is a collaboration between Emerson and Berklee College of Music students that aims to transform the Cab into a portal to an immersive, musical theater experience.

“You’re at The Dead End, the world’s first and only paranormal nightclub, conveniently stationed between here and the hereafter,” said Luke Palmer, a junior performing arts major and director and co-writer of The Grim Cabaret.

The Grim Cabaret is a “jukebox musical,” or a production that uses previously released songs to construct a new narrative. The same concept was used in Poison Apple, an April 2011 musical that was also not affiliated with an organization. The show turned the Cabaret into a nightclub and the audience into its patrons. Poison Apple’s approach inspired Palmer to create a different sort of show.

“I thought, what if we tried to do that, but focused on creating a more interactive, darker theatrical experience?” Palmer said.  “It’s like a musical haunted house.” 

Palmer, with co-writer and Emerson senior Melanie Mednick, wanted to produce the show but did not belong to any of Emerson’s musical theater organizations. 

“We weren’t involved in the musical theater scene here, but we both have a lot of passion and love for it,” Palmer said about himself and Mednick.

The duo formed their own ad hoc production team dubbed “Pinebox Productions,”  whose ranks included Emerson students and students from Berklee College of Music recruited by Mednick, a transfer student. 

“She knew a lot of people from Berkelee, and I knew a lot of people from Emerson, so we decided to combine our forces,” Palmer said.

The Grim Cabaret will feature music from The Dresden Dolls, Nine Inch Nails, Gogol Bordello, Queen and other artists, performed by Berklee musicians. 

As far as the story and audience interaction are concerned, Palmer is tight -lipped. 

“A magician never reveals his secrets,” he said, claiming that surprise is a major part of the experience.

Palmer hinted that the audience was in store for theatrical tricks and twists tuned by the intercollegiate cast and crew.

“Collectively,” he said, “the entire production team is one giant David Copperfield.”

Grim Cabaret runs April 15 and 16. Tickets are free and can be reserved by emailing GrimTix@gmail.com