Setting the stage on Summer Street

by Cathleen Cusachs / Beacon Staff • January 25, 2017

1485398245 cab and fitness center  5 of 8  web.jpg
The new Cabaret is located on 52 Summer St.
The new Cabaret is located on 52 Summer St.

If you’re keen to see some Emerson comedy shows or student theater, you’ll likely find yourself in a retrofitted dance studio above an Uno Due Go restaurant.

Emerson’s Cabaret, formerly in the basement of the Little Building, has been moved to 52 Summer St., about a ten minute walk from campus. Josh Hamlin, director of the campus center, said it’s temporary for now, but the future plans are still in discussion.

The move comes in anticipation of the May closing of the Little Building for renovation. The building will be under construction until 2019.

The new Cab is larger than the old space. It has a second room, which Hamlin said he foresees being used as a backstage, costume room, or reception area.

“As for the breadth of functionality, it’s still the same—actually, better,” Hamlin said. “There are two structural columns in the room, unfortunately. But even with those, we’ve been able to map out floor plans and room diagrams that exceed what we had in the previous Cabaret.”

Prior to the Cab’s move, the Summer Street space was used as a dance studio with a restaurant below it. To be able to work with the room and avoid disrupting the downstairs neighbors, there are some changes in technology. Hamlin said the lights are all LED-based, and the audio is on a digital system. The only restriction he said might be bothersome is making sure the noise levels stay minimal during the day.

Tyler Ericson, a sophomore performing arts major and a Cab technician, had the opportunity to view the new space before it was opened to the public. He said the distance isn’t bad, and it’s a nice change of pace to have the Cab out of the basement. Some differences he’s noticed are the light grids, which are now square, and the columns.

“I think that the set-up that’s in there right now and the technical solutions that have been given are the best options for what we have to work with as far as budgetary restrictions and turning it from a studio into a black box theater,” Ericson said. “I think the way it was done was probably the best way that it could have been done.”

Initially, it was planned to merge the Cab services with the Bill Bordy theater, but Hamlin said the idea was scrapped upon later assessments.

“With both the number of events each venue held and how often additional requests were being made and the structural limitations of the [Bordy], we were hoping for an alternative,” Hamlin said. “When the Summer Street location became a possibility, it became a real ideal alternative because it gave us that dedicated space.”

Ericson said he agrees this is a much better option than the Bordy, despite the differences.

“They invested in some new technology and did some upgrades on that front,” Ericson said. “We’ve definitely gained some great things and lost a few things, but I think it’ll be good.”

Hamlin said the Emerson community can start signing up now through Spacebook, though the semester is filling up fast.

“The Cabaret is still one of the most highly utilized spaces on campus,” Hamlin said. “We’re anticipating one, if not more, events per day for the remainder of the semester starting this week. There’s only a select handful of dates, if any, that are left. So, book soon.”