Sneak Preview of 'Cabaret' Costumes with Designer Ryan Park

February 26, 2019 Madison Spahn

Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s production of Cabaret, directed by Otis Sallid, explores the extravagant world inside the seedy Kit Kat Club as political upheaval begins to rage outside its walls. Here, costume designer Ryan Park shares his exclusive concept art and discusses the show’s dark, gender-bending look.

Ryan's design for the gorilla

What is the aesthetic of the production?

I would describe the aesthetic of the show as a somewhat dark interpretation of the patrons and performers that actually attended cabaret clubs in 1920s and 1930s Germany. We looked at research of German expressionist artists, as well as performers from that time period.

How did drag culture and LGBTQ+ culture influence your designs? Will they play into the production thematically?

My designs are influenced by LGBTQ+ culture in the sense that there were many performers and guests at the clubs that did cross-dress or use clothing and makeup as a means of transforming themselves. Drag culture is having a moment right now, getting a lot of mainstream attention, but this is something that’s been going on for a very long time. Drag seems to be celebratory, and that’s how we're using it in the show as well.


Ryan's design for a patron at the kit kat club

Why put Sally, the main character, in such bright colors compared to the rest of the scheme?

The color is to represent her optimism or hope of what might be. It ends up being kind of heartbreaking because she never quite gets there.

Can you talk about the contrast between the more somber costumes of characters like Cliff, Ernst, and Fraulein Schneider, and the more avant-garde costumes of the Kit Kat Club characters?

We’re setting up a real, grounded world with the characters outside of the club, and then more a fantasy world in which the characters can exist.

Cabaret opens at Boston Conservatory Theater on Thursday, March 7 and runs through Sunday, March 10. Learn more about the production and purchase tickets here.