VIDEO: Watch John Kander Work with Students on New Version of CABARET
Manhattan School of Music, one of the world's foremost independent music conservatories and one of just two such institutions in the U.S. offering a Musical Theatre degree, this month presents a mainstage production of the Kander & Ebb classic, Cabaret.
But this timeless classic will be served with a twist.
MSM's production, directed by Don Stephenson with music direction by David Loud, is effectively a world premiere, a new version of one of Broadway's legendary masterpieces. Rather than choosing between the three distinct versions of the show available for license from Tams-Witmark, a Concord Theatricals Company, the creative team asked the composer what his preferred version of the show would be. Kander answered by picking and choosing from the existing texts (including material from the 1972 Bob Fosse film), cutting and restoring material in a very clear path. The production also features the legendary original Ron Field choreography for "The Telephone Song."
Drawing from various existing texts "focuses the musical in a different way, quite successfully, I think," says music director David Loud, a long-time collaborator of Kander's. "And to have the composer come and work with the students on this new version was extraordinary. Watching 19-year-old Jasmine Rogers singing 'Maybe This Time' 10 feet away from the 91-year-old man who wrote the song is something I'll never forget. That passing of knowledge between generations is such a valuable tradition."
Kander, who plans to attend the February 4 opening night at Manhattan School of Music's historic, newly renovated Neidorff-Karpati Hall, expressed enthusiasm for what he saw during his recent visit to a full rehearsal of this dark, delightful classic, set in the seamy Kit Kat Klub of a fraught 1931 Berlin. "I'm enjoying their talents," Kander said during a break in rehearsal. "Every time someone does a musical you wrote a long time ago, they bring something new to it, and it's not what you intended, and so there's the excitement to that: 'I never thought of it that way.'"
During his rehearsal visit, Kander gave feedback and advice to the performers between scenes. "It's great working with the kids; you get their take on the material that was written long before they were born," he said. "It's very touching and exciting for me to find out what that feels like in their mind."