Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred ebb
Book by Joe Masteroff
Co-direction and Choreography by Rob Marshall
Directed by Sam Mendes
Roundabout Theatre Company
What's It All About?
The 2014 revival of the 1998 revival of the 1987 revival of the 1966 Broadway musical about seedy cabaret life in 1930s Berlin, on the brink of Hitler's rise to power. Alan Cumming, who won the Tony for his performance as the Emcee (a sort of narrator for the show) in the last revival returns to anchor this one, again at studio 54, which is transformed into the Kit Kat Klub, run by Max (Benjamin Eakeley) with cabaret style seating and a German-themed snack and beverage menu for the audience (the house opens an hour early).
Playing cabaret singer Sally Bowles is Michelle Williams (whom film buffs will know from "My Week with Marilyn." Brokeback Mountain," "Oz the Great and Powerful," and "Shutter Island" among others), making her Broadway debut. She becomes the roommate, then lover of repressed homosexual Clifford Bradshaw (Bill Heck), who had hoped to write the great American novel, but who ends up teaching English to Ernst Ludwig (Aaron Krohn) and his friends to make ends meet and to pay the rent on his room in the boarding house run by Fraulein Schneider (an excellent Linda Emond).
Schneider has a secret affair with local grocer, Herr Schultz (a terrific Danny Burstein), much to the delight of boarder Frauelein Kost (Gayle Rankin), who uses the information to keep the landlord from restricting her activities with a long line of sailors who visit her in her room. Sally also keeps company with many men and when she finds out she is pregnant, she isn't sure Cliff is the father and contemplates an abortion -- her solution to the problem many times before, apparently. Cliff thinks the baby will give them some focus in their lives and wants her to come back to America with him, but Max might have a more tempting offer...
Cliff starts to becomes uncomfortable with Ernst's involvement in the Nazi party and things become very awkward when the young German threatens Schneider with unpleasant consequences if she goes through with her plans to marry Herr Schultz -- a Jew.
What Are the Highlights?
- Any Kander-Ebb score is worth hearing live on stage any time you can. The 20-person band is located on a second level of the set (designed by Robert Brill) and is under the direction of Patrick Vaccariello, who also does the vocal arrangements). Great to hear some classic songs like "Willkommen," "Maybe This Time," "Money," "What Would You Do," "Tomorrow Belongs to Me," and the title song.
- Great to see Cumming in his signature role. He really made this his own last time and it's a wonderful opportunity to see a piece of theater history.
- The cabaret set up really is fun and provides a nice change of pace to the typical theater-going experience.
What Are the Lowlights?
- Many think Williams was robbed when her name wasn't announced for a Tony award nomination, but she seemed out of place in the role -- almost like everything was dwarfing her and she just wasn't up to filling shoes that had been filled by the likes of Natasha Richardson and Liza Minelli (in the film). Sometimes she wasn't quite on a note and she has a whole lot vibrato going on up there.
- The feel of the show is sleazy (it's supposed to be, it just isn't a pleasant feeling) from the vulgar costume (by William Ivey Long) for the Emcee to the scanty numbers worn by the show girls. It's a show right at home at Studio 54, which was the capital of decadence and seediness back in the disco club era in the '70s.
- My Bavarian pretzel looked suspiciously like one you could purchase from a street vendor for a few dollars less...
Cabaret runs through Jan. 4, 2015 at Studio 54, 254 West 54th St., NYC. http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/
Runtime: two hours, 30 minutes with an intermission
Christians might also like to know:
-- Cross dressing
-- Scantily =-clad actors
-- Sexual dialogue
-- Sexually suggestive moves
-- Homosexual activity
-- Sexual activity