FLASH FRIDAY: Come (Back) To The CABARET!
"What good is sitting alone in your room?" Especially when a big splashy revival of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff's celebrated Weimar Germany musical CABARET is back on Broadway, starring Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming! Start celebrating, already - beginning right here.
Come Blow Your Horn
Shocking, disturbing and thought-provoking - not to mention a cultural event like few others - the original 1966 premiere production of CABARET directed by then-rising helmer Hal Prince was certainly ahead of its time at the moment of its debut, yet time itself has been more than kind to the unusual and edgy theatre piece in the intervening years since - and how! Featuring an attention-grabbing and idiosyncratic master of ceremonies simply referred to as the Emcee, CABARET made a star of Joel Grey, who would not only take home the Tony Award for his portrayal, but, also the Academy Award, too (in the same year as Al Pacino in THE GODFATHER, no less). Of course, history repeated itself decades later when Alan Cumming made a major mark in the part and took home a Tony Award for his efforts, as well - and, now, with this week's revival opening, here he is, back on the Great White Way wowing crowds all over again. But, as fabulously theatrical and outré as the Emcee is and was, CABARET is really more or less all about the leading lady - in this case, the one and only Sally Bowles.
While these days Sally Bowles is irrevocably associated with legendary stage and screen icon Liza Minnelli, who rightly won an Oscar for her work in the revolutionary Bob Fosse feature film adaptation, she was far from the first to take on the towering figure originating in Christopher Isherwood's Berlin stories. Jill Haworth famously led the original Hal Prince production of CABARET, while a young Judi Dench headlined the West End bow. But, there have been some more than merely impressive essayers of the role since then, as well.
Subsequent to Haworth and Dench, a number of recognizable actresses have appeared in the part, ranging from original Broadway replacement performer Anita Gillette to 1987 revival lead Alyson Reed up to 1998 revival originator Natasha Richardson, who won the Tony Award for her performance. This century, the trend continues, with LES MISERABLES movie musical breakout player Samantha Barks having starred in a recent West End revival, along with many other major mountings of the musical masterpiece all over the world with a vast array of notable names.
Of particular note, the first go-round of the Roundabout Theatre Company revival showcased a head-spinning assortment of major leading players following Cumming and Richardson - among them: Neil Patrick Harris, Adam Pascal, Raul Esparza, John Stamos and Michael C. Hall as the Emcee, along with Gina Gershon, Brooke Shields, Lea Thompson, Molly Ringwald and many more as Sally. The brand new 2014 reproduction of that same Sam Mendes/Rob Marshall co-production, which just opened last night at Studio 54, is highlighted by not only the welcome return of Tony-winner Cumming, but the Broadway debut of film superstar Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles.
Many different recipes for success and even more reasons justifying its uniquely persuasive power, CABARET remains a performance showpiece like few others in the musical theatre canon and is sure to be revived for many decades to come. Much like a good pineapple, who wouldn't want a piece?
What Would You Do?
So, now, let's take a look at some of the most memorable performances and clips pertaining to CABARET from its near-50-year history in honor of its Broadway return this week.
First up, see Joel Grey perform the show-stopping (or, in this case, show-starting) "Wilkommen" on the 1967 Tony Awards.
Following that, a nubile and sassy Judi Dench leads the West End production in 1968. Wow!
The divine Anita Gillette replaced Jill Haworth on Broadway and struts her stuff in this sensational CABARET clip.
Next, enjoy this delectable curiosity showcasing Liza Minnelli performing the title song on an Australian TV special five years before she starred in the iconic 1972 film version.
Now, take in the trailer for Bob Fosse's CABARET. Pure genius!
After that, see Alyson Reed take on Sally in CABARET in 1988, once again directed by Hal Prince.
Alan Cumming takes home a 1998 Tony Award for his Emcee in CABARET.
Sneak a peek at a recent UK touring production of CABARET.
UK star Will Young leads the cast at the 2013 Laurence Olivier Awards.
Peruse this tantalizing montage of clips from the new Broadway revival of CABARET.
Lastly, see the visually arresting trailer for CABARET 2014.
As a special bonus, witness Studio 54 being transformed into the Kit Kat Klub for CABARET 2014.
What exactly is it about CABARET that makes it so worthy of revival so soon after we last saw it on the Great White Way? Furthermore, what is your personal favorite moment in the magical story and score for the show? Also, favorite production or performance to date? Whatever it is that makes CABARET consistently revisit-able decade after decade is on full display at Studio 54 right now, for sure, old chums.
Photo Credits: Joan Marcus, etc.