By Alysa Levi-DAncona
No, no, we aren’t offering you tickets to Bora Bora or Fiji, but Lawrence University’s Lawrence International is providing the Fox Valley community with the next best thing! On May 9, Lawrence International (LI) is putting on its 38th annual Cabaret: a celebration of world culture through the collaboration of over one hundred students. With a theme of “cultural connection arriving at the global terminal,” the show is bound to make you feel like you’re boarding a flight to distant lands.
Diana Szteinberg, a junior at Lawrence and current president of LI, explained, “We want it to feel like you’re an international traveler.” And while you can’t quite expect cancan dancers in a kick line, you can be sure that LI will provide an authentic air to the program of performances.
Lawrence’s student body represents 46 countries and 26 languages, with families in the Appleton area who are matched with international students to better acclimate them to the United States. But this exchange also provides the families with a rare chance to learn about a new culture as well. From the get go, Lawrence University allows the Lawrence and Appleton community to benefit from experiencing different cultures outside the classroom. When you’re caught up in a whirlwind of cultures, it’s easy to feel like you’re not in Appleton anymore, and Cabaret is no exception.
“This is one of the biggest Lawrence University community events of the year,” noted Leah McSorley, director of international student services at Lawrence. Cabaret has been known to fill 500 seats––a conglomerate of Lawrence students as well as community members. McSorley mainly oversees the event, however. LI is completely student run, meaning that all of the events for Cabaret––planning, renting, auditions, and choosing performances and the menu––are organized by a board of Lawrence students.
But the competition for performance time was fierce this year, with 12 countries represented in the acts and even more during the two fashion shows. Szteinberg told us how hard it was to choose during the audition process. “Twenty-one groups auditioned, and we cut that down to fourteen,” she explained. “We have very diverse performances: a few songs, like French and Thai, that are slower-paced; really active dances; some skit-like dances with storylines; and even a hula dance.”
And here to guide us through our exotic journey are three student MCs: Jazmin Astwood, Brienne Colston, and Andre Augustine. The trio was chosen through an audition process, where they had to improvise a skit to introduce a dance. “They have a good dynamic,” Szteinberg shared. “They’re very upbeat. This show’s going to have a lot of diversity and will be very interactive with the public.” Between the MCs, the board’s efforts, and the performances, Szteinberg could hardly choose which creative aspect she was more excited to see in action.
After the performances, LI is hosting a reception dinner with food from varying countries, promising to expand your tongue’s palette, your cultural horizons, and maybe even your waistlines (but let’s face it, the food will be so worth it).
“Cabaret is not made for Lawrence,” Szteinberg explained. “It’s part of Lawrence, but it’s made for everyone. It shows our diversity, but it really unifies Lawrence with the outside community.”
Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for community members, and $5 for children ages 4-12 (children under 4 are free). Performances will start at 7:00 PM on Friday, May 9 in Lawrence University’s Memorial Chapel, and the reception begins immediately afterward and is included in ticket price. Tickets can be purchased at the Information Desk in the Warch Campus Center.