WAKE UP, BROADWAY FANS!! We are only 28 days away from Broadway’s biggest night of the year, the 71st Annual Tony Awards. We are getting entertained every morning with some of the past Broadway toe-tappers from the past 71 telecasts in our TOP 30 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN.
At #28, we take a trip to an iconic night club in Berlin where the only thing you leave outside is your troubles. This is all happening during World War II at the time of the Nazis’ rise to power. That iconic club is of course THE KIT KAT CLUB from Kander & Ebb‘s Cabaret: the Musical (based off of a 1951 play called I AM A CAMERA by John Van Druten, which was adapted from Christopher Isherwood‘s 1939 short novel GOODBYE TO BERLIN). The musical was also co-written by Joe Masteroff and featured the iconic choreography of Bob Fosse.
From the 1967 telecast, the musical’s legendary star Joel Grey as the flamboyant, ghoulish, and showstopping “Emcee” with a secret and the cast perform the musical’s opening number “WILLKOMMEN.”
CABARET premiered in 1966 at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre (and later transferred twice to the Imperial and the Broadhurst Theatre) where it played a total of 1,186 performances. The show starred Joel Grey (and later Martin Ross) as “The Emcee” and Jill Haworth (and later Anita Gillette and Melissa Hart) as the iconic TOAST OF MAYFAIR herself “Fraulein Sally Bowles.” 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.
The show would later be revived three times on Broadway. In 1987, that legendary original production returned to the Imperial Theatre (and later transferring to the Minskoff Theatre) starring Joel Grey reprising the role of “The Emcee” along with Alyson Reed as “Fraulein Sally Bowles” playing a total of 261 performances. That first revival was nominated for 3 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, but lost in all of its categories.
Later in 1998, a new production (that originally came from London’s Donmar Warehouse in 1993) was produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company playing Broadway’s Henry Miller’s Theatre (currently the Stephen Sondheim Theatre) before moving to Studio 54 starring Alan Cumming (and later Ra?l E. Esparza, Neil Patrick Harris, Adam Pascal, Jon Secada, Norbert Leo Butz, and John Stamos) as the Emcee along with the late Natasha Richardson (and later Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tony-nominee Susan Egan, Joely Fisher, Gina Gershon, Deborah Gibson, Teri Hatcher, Melina Kanakaredes, Jane Leeves, Molly Ringwald, The Real Brooke Shields, and Lea Thompson) as “Fraulein Sally Bowles” playing a total of 2,377 performances. This production was well known for its intimate staging turning the entire auditorium into a real-life KIT CAT CLUB in Berlin (featuring table seating). In addition, this production featured no orchestra pit but the entire score being played by the Ensemble cast serving as the orchestra when they’re not doing big numbers. 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).
Most recently in 2014, Roundabout Theatre Company brought back that acclaimed 1998 revival for a limited engagement to Studio 54. It featured Alan Cumming reprising the role of “The Emcee” and Golden Globe-winner Michelle Williams (later Oscar- and Golden Globe-winner Emma Stone and Sienna Miller) as “Fraulein Sally Bowles.” This engagement ran for a total of 423 performances. It was nominated for only 2 Awards for Best Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical (for Danny Burstein and Linda Emond), but lost in all of its categories. This revival is currently touring across America and is expected to run until this summer, but expected to return to the road in 2018.
CABARET was also a huge success for its iconic 1972 film version which starred Joel Grey reprising his performance of “The Emcee” and Liza Minelli as “Fraulein Sally Bowles.” The film incorporated 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. 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. Composers Kander & Ebb were accused of anti-Semitism. The film however went on to be nominated for 10 Academy Awards 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”?!!
Joel Grey, Cabaret 1967 Tony Awards