A Day in the Life of a Cabaret Music Director

Akash Gupta, Contributor

Akash Gupta (MBA ’20), Music Director, discusses his thoughts about Cabaret and what we can expect to see this year.

The Cabaret auditions are tonight, and I’m experiencing the sort of nervous excitement that Adam Levine must have felt before every episode of The Voice. For the next three hours, I’ll be listening to the singers, instrumentalists, and comedians who will bring the house down in November.

Looking through the sign-up sheet in my Google Docs, I pause for a moment to think about the place that the Cabaret occupies in the world of HBS student life. Being an outlet for artistic talent that goes unnoticed in the Aldrich hallways, the Cabaret paints a more nuanced picture of the average HBS student. Business school might not be the obvious place for a thriving arts culture, but as I scroll through all the names in the Google Doc, I start to think otherwise.

The Cabaret is now in its fourth year, the first performance having been the brainchild of ex-HBS Show members who wanted to expand the arts scene on campus. Since then, it has been a home for smaller acts that range in mood from satirical to thoughtful. Our editor-in-chief, Gabriel, wrote an excellent synopsis of Cabaret 2018 in the December 2018 issue of the Harbus, but my favorite items from last year were “Just Make Things Up” (a song about the case method to the tune of “You Raise Me Up”) and a stand-up routine about the New York Times recommending an article on the secret lives of alpacas.

The intimacy of the Cabaret is another selling point. Since it takes place in the Oberon theater, the audience feels closer to the performers than they would in Klarman or the Shubert Theatre.

Given its episodic format, the Cabaret also has the ability to shift character, sometimes touching upon topics that don’t necessarily fit the format of the annual HBS Show.

From a Music Director’s perspective, I see Cabaret 2019 continuing to provide a lighthearted take on life at HBS in addition to showcasing the school’s talent. I can’t reveal too much, but the Cabaret team has some ambitious ideas for highlighting the diverse perspectives represented at HBS.

We’re also aiming to rewrite more songs to showcase the unique challenges of the fall semester (e.g., RCs getting shoulder massages after raising their hands nonstop, ECs leaving a trail of name cards).

Since last year’s Cabaret quickly sold out, we are increasing the number of shows from two to four, which will allow more students to attend what promises to be a night of fun and radical transparency.

And with that, I hope to see you at Cabaret 2019!


The HBS Show Club will present Cabaret 2019 on November 20 and 21 at the Oberon in Harvard Square. Tickets will be on sale a few weeks before the performances.

Akash Gupta (MBA ’20) is from Houston, Texas, and worked in the petrochemical industry before coming to HBS. His interests include renewable energy, social enterprise, and the arts.