Cabaret Opens on Broadway
Cabaret opened on Thursday, April 24 to rave reviews.
"Originally staged in 1966, then brought to a sordid cinematic life in Bob Fosse's (heavily adapted) 1972 film, the Kander and Ebb classic was revived and reconfigured anew in Roundabout Theatre Company's triumphant 1998 account. Now that version has returned with its original star: the supreme Alan Cumming as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent nightclub in Berlin's Weimar period. At once intoxicating and sobering, Cabaret is one hell of a bash. Start celebrating-but don't expect to end that way. The time of apolitical partying is on the verge of death, while a political party-with its signature goose step, like a kick line gone bad-is waiting in the wings."
The New Yorker
By Hilton Als
"Michelle Williams's Sally, in Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall's revival of "Cabaret," wears her loneliness like a cloak over her fur coat. She's an emotionally broken person with excellent posture who performs in order to momentarily dispel her fear that the world isn't always paying attention. When she wants to feign indifference or innocence, she bats her eyes slowly, like a nineteen-twenties boudoir doll, and she speaks in a metallic voice, like the clatter of a typewriter; the voice is a defense, a remnant of the Jazz Age, out of synch with this corroding world. The weight of actual talent would be too much to add to this Sally's burdens; her singing and dancing are just a way of marking time until she can be herself again, "madly" alive. Williams gives a perspicacious, authentic performance in a synthetic medium, the American musical. She is not a creature of Broadway, so she doesn't play anything bigger than it needs to be played; it would go against her m.o. Instead, she digs and digs for those moments, in herself and in the script, that will lift the production to a level that can't be explained. Her performance may baffle those who know only the Minnelli version and don't realize that Williams is playing Sally as Isherwood envisioned her: talentless, more verbal about sex than sexual (she longs to be considered "shocking"), adrift-and intent on being fascinating."
By David Quinn
"Cabaret" is a seductive piece of theater, beautifully designed and with stellar performances throughout. Moreover the show's story, about a seedy nightclub in 1930s Berlin and how the relationships of its patrons and neighbors are affected by the rise of the Nazi party, rings as poignant as ever. Guiding us through "Cabaret" is our androgynous, libidinous Emcee, played once again by Alan Cumming. Cumming continues to shine in the role that not only gave him his Broadway debut, but also won him a 1998 Tony Award. It's a thrill to see his Emcee again, and when compared to his character on TV's "The Good Wife," should help you appreciate the range of talent Cumming has within. Cumming's Emcee is mischievous and funny as ever. But age has allowed Cumming to mature his character in ways we haven't seen before. His Emcee is more in command now, and when he peers in on the action from the shallows, it feels less observant and more foreboding. Like he knows the inevitability of what's ahead."
Alan Cumming must have sold his soul to the devil to acquire his divinely debauched persona as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub in "Cabaret." It seemed nuts but proved shrewd of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall to retool their dazzling 1998 revival of the Kander and Ebb masterpiece, fit Cumming with a new trenchcoat for his triumphant return, and bring the decadent netherworld of 1920s Berlin back to Studio 54, the revival's ideal venue. Inspiration flagged, however, in casting Michelle Williams, so soft and vulnerable in "My Week With Marilyn," as wild and reckless party girl Sally Bowles.
"Now the Roundabout's brought back the production - down to its logo - with Alan Cumming reprising his brilliant, Tony-winning turn as Emcee of the seedy Kit Kat Klub. Indeed, the theater's orchestra section's been transformed into that infamous Berlin nightclub - "Cabaret" is the show that decisively brought the immersive experience to Broadway. And what an experience it is! Those lucky enough to be seated at one of the small, lamp-lit tables are teleported to 1929 Berlin, when the city is losing itself in dissolute pleasures just as the Nazis are rising to power."
By Elysa Gardner
"Every so often, Broadway will host a musical revival that both makes us wistful for the days when great scores and stories were more common and finds fresh inspiration in the material. Back in 1998, there was Sam Mendes' dazzling, searing production of Cabaret, a show he had staged five years earlier as artistic director of London's Donmar Warehouse. The Cabaret (* * * * out of four stars) that opened Thursday at Studio 54 might be viewed as a revival of that revival; it is once again produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company and helmed by Mendes, with Rob Marshall serving as co-director and choreographer. Key designers have also been retained, including Robert Brill, whose set once again turns the house - a renowned nightclub in the late '70s - into the Kit Kat Klub, where British showgirl Sally Bowles holds court in Weimar Berlin. But even if you saw it last time, you are strongly advised - no, urged - to return. The reasons to do so include both a familiar face in the cast and a few new ones.Alan Cumming, whose indelibly naughty, biting performance redefined the role of the Klub's Emcee, revisits the character with renewed senses of mischief and urgency that will leave you riveted, from the moment he introduces a deliciously bawdy Willkommen to his final, chilling adieu."
"If it looks a lot like the version that ran from 1998-2004, that's understandable: Alan Cumming is back in his Tony Award-winning role as Emcee and director Sam Mendes and co-director and choreographer Rob Marshall are again pulling the strings on this show about life in pre-World War II Berlin. Orchestrations and costumes - what little there are - also are the same. Even its old home at Studio 54 has reverted to set designer Robert Brill's clever use of tiny nightclub tables on the theater's main floor, a nod to the original revival's stab at immersive theater. The score, by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, is as stirring as ever. One big change is the woman in the bob: Michelle Williams makes her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles and she does an excellent job, playing both scared and daffy superbly and singing with real heart."
New York Daily News
By Joe Dziemianowicz
"Their burgeoning and bumpy relationship is mirrored by that of Cliff's landlady (Linda Emond, who raises the stakes in every scene she's in) and the good-hearted Jewish fruit seller (a menschy Danny Burstein). Neither romance has a chance due to politics or personal issues or both. But as these characters see their lives and loves ruined, the show goes on at the Kit Kat Klub like nothing's happening. We watch the grimy and grinning dancers - who double as musicians and play small roles - go through their motions. The point of wrapping audiences into the show is obvious - and potent. As before, the oily emcee looms especially large. Alan Cumming won a Tony for the role 16 years ago. Beaming with creepy charisma, the sly Cumming is better than ever conjuring an androgynous bottom feeder whose smile hides something much darker and grimmer."
By David Rooney
"When news surfaced that Roundabout Theatre Company was planning a return engagement of its wildly successful 1998 Cabaret revival just ten years after it closed, some pundits wondered if it was too soon. Rubbish. For one thing, this audacious Brechtian musical set against the rise of Nazism in Weimar-era Berlin will always be relevant, and its glittering score by John Kander and Fred Ebb ranks among Broadway's finest. For another, there's simply no wrong time to revisit Sam Mendes' and Rob Marshall's thrilling production, which is even sharper this time around, with Alan Cumming reprising his louche Emcee alongside Michelle Williams' shattering Sally Bowles."
The Kit Kat Klub Orchestra in 'Cabaret.' Photo by Joan Marcus.
By Robert Feldberg
"Cabaret," which opened at Studio 54 Thursday night, is the last show of the 2013-14 Broadway season. And perhaps the most exciting. The show is essentially the same production - with cast changes - as the previous revival of the musical, which played at Studio 54 from 1998 to 2004, racking up 2,377 performances. Yet, it's totally fresh and crisp, and completely seductive, with Alan Cumming repeating his memorable performance, and Hollywood's Michelle Williams making a triumphant Broadway debut."
By Brendan Lemon
"Grumbling was heard when the Sam Mendes/Rob Marshall production of Cabaret, starring Michelle Williams, was announced for 2014 by the Roundabout Theatre Company. This revival of the 1966 Kander and Ebb musical had closed only a decade ago: was it already time for the decadent denizens of Weimar to make their return to the temple of 1970s hedonism, Studio 54? If the answer is not a triumphant yes - every actor in the new iteration is not ideal - then the answer is certainly, in a just-completed Broadway season without a knockout new musical, a very welcome yes."
By Emma Brockes
"The revival of Sam Mendes' Cabaret on Broadway, 15 years after its first run, is a reminder that even shows this familiar can still hold surprises: you can forget it has an almost perfect score, with no padding or bad songs to fidget through like so many juggernaut musicals on Broadway. And the play is unexpectedly stressful: in this production, which is co-directed by Rob Marshall and stars Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams, you spend most of the second half in a state of gut-clenching anxiety. The show will break your heart and lift your spirits more wildly than anything else you can see in the city right now."
By Hermione Hoby
"Alan Cumming, made up like an Otto Dix painting, is perfect as the delicious and depraved Master of Ceremonies and he sets the tone for a show that's as riotously risqué as it is ultimately ruthless. His relish is infectious, but in any case, who couldn't fail to be charmed by a musical that can follow an outrageous paean to ménages à trois ("Two Ladies") with a genteel ditty based around a pineapple ("It Couldn't Please Me More"). This latter is Herr Schultz's genteel wooing of his lady-love boarding-house owner and their story is the romantic sub-plot to the affair between Bowles and Cliff Bradshaw, her dashing, (but here rather bland) American novelist. Bradshaw describes Berlin like this: "So tawdry and terrible and everyone's having such a wonderful time." The power of Mendes's production comes from the confidence with which he allows the tawdry to teeter, and then fall so completely and brutally into the terrible."
By Toby Zinman
"Scholars tell us that the ancient Greek masks of Comedy and Tragedy were often hung on the same hook. The face underneath those masks might have been Alan Cumming's. His dazzling Emcee is at first comic, leading us on a louche pansexual romp through the decadence of Berlin during the Weimar years. Then his performance grows darker and darker, as the show does, as despair and terror creep in as the Nazis gain power. Cumming is so irresistible that nobody else onstage stands much of a chance. Even when he's on a platform or a balcony watching the goings-on among the poor and deluded, his presence is magnetic."
Cabaret plays at Studio 54 through January 4, 2015. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.
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