WAKE UP, BROADWAY FANS!! We are only 25 days away from Broadway’s biggest night of the year, the 72ns Annual Tony Awards. We are getting entertained every morning with some of the past Broadway toe-tappers from the past 72 telecasts in our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN.
At #25, we take a trip to an iconic nightclub in 1930’s Berlin (led by an unusual flamboyant Master of Ceremonies) with the only thing that you leave outside is your troubles. This is all happening during World War II at the time of the Nazis’ rise to power. We are talking about the legendCabaret the Musical. Based off of Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 short novel GOODBYE TO BERLIN) and the John Van Druten’s 1951 play I AM A CAMERA, the musical features a score by John Kander & Fred Ebb along with a book by Joe Masteroff.
From the 2014 telecast, Alan Cumming as “The Emcee” and the cast of the most recent revival perform the musical’s iconic opening number “WILLKOMMEN.”
CABARET was initially first conceived in the 1950’s. Originally the musical was technically supposed to be a straight play with music. Composer and book writer Sandy Lewis was already working on a musical adaptation of the novel GOODBYE TO BERLIN. One day, he discovered that producer David Black’s option on both GOODBYE TO BERLIN and its source material from the original novel I AM A CAMERA was invalid and been bought by acclaimed director and fellow producer Harold Prince. With Joe Masteroff on board to work on the book, they both agreed that Wilson’s score failed to capture the essence of late-1920s Berlin. They fired Wilson and got John Kander and Fred Ebb on board. In addition came choreographer Bob Fosse. While going through the writing of music for the play, Kander and Ebb realized that the score would actually fit better as a book musical. New dialogue and characters were written and initial music that was being written for the play were cut now incorporating songs that would fit the plot. In addition, the top of the show began very differently than a traditional musical people knew today. Instead of an Overture, the show now famously begins with a drumroll.
Following a tough out of town tryout in Boston, CABARET officially arrived on Broadway in 1966 at the Broadhurst Theatre (and later transferred twice to the Imperial and the Broadway Theatre) where it played a total of 1,186 performances. The show starred…
Joel Grey (and later Martin Ross) as “The Emcee”
Jill Haworth (and later Anita Gillette and Melissa Hart) as the iconic TOAST OF MAYFAIR herself “Fraulein Sally Bowles.”
bert convy as “Clifford Bradshaw”,
Lotte Lenya as “Fraulein Schneider”,
Jack Gilford as “Herr Shultz”
and Peg Murray (later Mara Landi and Rhonda Gemignani) as “Fraulein Kost”.
The original production was nominated for 11 Tony Awards in 1967 winning 8 including Best Musical and Best Performance By A Featured Actor in A Musical (for Joel Grey).
Following the success of the original production on Broadway, CABARET went on to become a huge smash in London’s West End and around the world. The show would later be revived three times on Broadway.
The first Broadway revival happened in 1987 where Hal Prince recreated his original staging back on the Great White Way. In addition, some of the dialogue and new songs were included for this engagement. It played Broadway’s Imperial Theatre (and later transferring to the Minskoff Theatre) for 261 performances. This company starred…
Joel Grey reprising the role of “The Emcee”
Alyson Reed (later Mary Munger) as “Fraulein Sally Bowles”,
Greg Edelman as “Clifford Bradshaw”,
Regina Resnik (Iater Peg Murray as “Fraulein Schneider”,
Werner Klemperer as “Herr Shultz”,
and Laura Mae Lyng as “Fraulein Kost”,
That first Broadway revival was nominated for 3 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical. It lost all the categories.
Later in 1998, a new production of CABARET (that originally came from London’s Donmar Warehouse in 1993) was produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company playing Broadway’s Henry Miller Theatre (currently the Stephen Sondheim Theatre). 6 months into the run, a construction hoist collapsed which blocked access to the Theater. To keep the show going, Roundabout moved the production reopening (and making history as the first Broadway show produced) in the legendary STUDIO 54 for the remainder of its run. Under the direction of Sam Mendes and choreography by Rob Marshall, this 1998 revival ran for a total of 2,377 performances. This production was well known for its intimate staging turning the entire auditorium into a real-life working KIT KAT CLUB in Berlin (featuring table seating). In addition, this production featured the cast doubling up as the orchestra. This production starred…
Alan Cumming (and later Raúl E. Esparza, Neil Patrick Harris, Adam Pascal, Jon Secada, Norbert Leo Butz, and John Stamos) as the Emcee,
The late Natasha Richardson (and later Jennifer Jason Leigh, Susan Egan, Joely Fisher, Gina Gershon, Deborah Gibson, Katie Finneran, Teri Hatcher, Melina Kanakaredes, Jane Leeves, Molly Ringwald, Brooke Shields, and Lea Thompson) as “Fraulein Sally Bowles”
John Benjamin Hickey (later Rick Holmes, Matthew Greer, Michael Hayden, and Boyd Gaines) as “Clifford Bradshaw”,
Mary Louise Wilson (later Alma Cuervo, Polly Bergen, Carole Shelley, and Blair Brown) as “Fraulein Schneider”,
Ron Rifkin (later Scott Robertson, Tom Bosley, Hal Linden Official, and Dick Latessa) as “Herr Schultz”,
and Michelle Pawk (later Candy Buckley and Victoria Clark) as “Fraulein Kost”.
That revival was nominated for 10 Tony Awards that same year in 1998 winning 4 including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor and Actress in a Musical (for Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson).
recently in 2014, Roundabout Theatre Company brought back that acclaimed 1998 revival of CABARET (as seen in this video) for a limited engagement at Studio 54 that ran for 423 performances. The cast featured…
Alan Cumming reprising the role of “The Emcee”,
Golden Globe-winner Michelle Williams (later Oscar and Golden Globe-winner Emma Stone. and Sienna Miller) as “Fraulein Sally Bowles.”
Linda Emond as “Fraulein Schneider”,
Danny Burnstein as “Herr Schultz”,
Bill Heck as “Clifford Bradshaw”,
and Gayle Rankin (later Hani Furstenberg) as “Fraulein Kost”.
This recent revival was nominated for 2 Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical (for Danny Burstein and Linda Emond), but lost in all of its categories. The production is currently on a Non Equity Tour set to wrap up next week.
In addition, the 2014 revival was well known for a little Theatre Etiquette drama that happened throughout the entire first act. Acclaimed screen actor Shia LaBeouf was arrested and charged for disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. He showed up at the Theater dressing sloppy and looking very drunk causing a whole scene. Before the performance, he weirdly was feeding a woman a strawberry and smoking in the Theater. During the performance, LaBeouf was heckling at the cast, kept spanking Alan Cumming in the butt running up and down the aisles, and continued to smoke. The house management asked him to leave the Theater but he refused. From there, the cops were brought over in to take him out. As they got him in handcuffs, LaBeouf began to spit, scream, and swear the officers. The cops put a mask on him taking him to the Midtown North Police Station (across the street from the Theater on 8th Avenue). He was let go less than 24 hours. In addition, he pleaded Guilty for what he did and went through a outpatient treatment for alcoholism.
Not only CABARET did well on stage but it was also a huge smash on the big screen. The legendary film was released in 1972. The film was well known for incorporating some of the new songs that would now be used in all the stage productions including MEIN HERR, MAYBE THIS TIME and THE MONEY SONG. The film was also met with a little controversy due to its themes of corruption, sexual ambiguity, false dreams and Nazism. In addition, one of the scenes in the film featuring the song TOMORROW BELONGS TO ME caused confusion to audiences, thinking it was an anthem of the Nazis which composers Kander & Ebb were accused of anti-Semitism. The cast starred…
Joel Grey reprising his performance of “The Emcee”,
Liza Minnelli as “Fraulein Sally Bowles”,
and Michael York as “Brian Roberts” (formerly “Clifford Bradshaw”).
The film went on to be nominated for 10 Oscars that same year, winning 8 including Best Actress in a Leading Role (for Liza Minnelli) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (for Joel Grey). Joel Grey made history as one of the few actors ever to win the Oscar, the Golden Globe, and the Tony for the same role.
Doesn’t this show remind you that every day LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL?!!