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Review ‘Cabaret’ – ‘Wilkommen’ to a Kit Kat Club like no other

Vaseline 3 months ago

Read our review of Cabaret on Broadway, a semi-riveting, award-winning revival of the classic Kander and Ebb musical starring Eddie Redmayne and Gayle Rankin.

Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret is a much-loved and revived property, so perhaps its twists and turns are no longer secrets. Despite the efforts of the great Gayle Rankin to bring a sense of urgency to the latest revival as star performer Sally Bowles, director Rebecca Frecknall’s production, now on Broadway after winning multiple awards in London, remains stagnant. This is not due to the excellent company of dancers at the Kit Kat Club (into which the August Wilson Theater has been converted), but to a discrepancy between the production design and the late Joe Masteroff’s book.

Cabaret‘s ending has been staged in many ways over the years. A more overtly somber version, similar to those of previous revivals, may feel too edgy today, but this production’s thesis – that a lack of individuality is a fate worse than death – ignores that falling in line and become a good soldier ‘ This is an option for most of the people on stage: queer people, political dissidents, and Jewish people and their loved ones in Weimar, Germany. Watching the cast transform into lifelike versions of the wooden puppets they play with in Act One is effective, but even more indicative of the disconnect in this production.

While Sally drinks gin, this production of Cabaret wants the public to drink and keep drinking. This is even encouraged in the theater’s new design, which adds ledges to the orchestra seats to accommodate glasses. Scenic and house design by Tom Scutt immerses the audience in the atmosphere of the Kit Kat Club, but ultimately clashes with the core of the show.

After a haunting “Tomorrow Belongs to Me (Reprise),” in which stage platforms rise as the core characters watch the fate of their country unfold, the waitstaff serves the audience with cheesecake, sorbet and more alcohol during intermission. As the rising tide of fascism swallows up the illusion of the Kit Kat Club, the production encourages you to keep partying and spending that money that keeps the world going.

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Cabaret resume

An eccentric Emcee (Eddie Redmayne) welcomes the audience to Berlin’s Kit Kat Club in 1929 as dancers, including Sally Bowles (Rankin), invite you to forget your troubles – including the unfolding politics of Weimar, Germany.

American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Ato Blankson-Wood) comes to Berlin to gain inspiration for his novel. He ends up with Sally and teaches English to his new friend Ernst Ludwig (Henry Gottfried). In between raucous musical numbers, Ernst tries to recruit Cliff to his mysterious political cause.

A developing romance between Cliff’s landlady, Fraulein Schneider (Bebe Neuwirth), and boarder Herr Schultz (Steven Skybell) threatens to destroy the fragile state in which the characters find themselves.

What can you expect? Cabaret

Cabaret encourages audiences to arrive at least an hour before curtain to enjoy the prologue, featuring musicians and dancers performing at the Kit Kat Club. No photography is allowed during the prologue (or the show, of course) and the ushers place stickers on each audience member’s phone camera. Servers offer guests cherry schnapps upon arrival, and you can purchase more drinks at the bar during the prologue and intermission.

Guests enter the Kit Kat Club through an alley, where an alternate accessible entrance is also available.

Cabaret is performed in the round, with the August Wilson transformed to look like a real club, complete with table chairs. Orchestra-level rows feature ledges for guests to rest their drinks, further complicating the typical dance of going up and down the aisle: Wear shoes that you can twist and turn inward, and be careful with your glasses.

Cabaret also features loud special effects and depicts Nazi paraphernalia in its discussion and depiction of the Weimar Republic’s political landscape.

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What the public says about Cabaret

Cabaret has an audience approval rating of 87% on Show-Score, putting it in the review aggregator’s ‘Excellent’ category.

  • “I sat mid-mezz and had an excellent experience with sightlines and sound. I understand that the back mezz is surprisingly good (especially if you get a booster from an usher). The pre-show is definitely worth it, although you can It does get busy before they open the theater (about 45 minutes in advance).” Show-Score user Lizzy Baked Goods
  • Actress Jackie Hoffman, in her typical detached comedic manner, called Cabaret’s pre-show prologue a “riveting, but tedious experience” via X. Be aware of performers wandering around the Club during the pre-show in the lobby!
  • “Great production of an all-time great show.” – Show-Score user GuyMacguffin

Read more audience reviews from Cabaret on Show Score.

Who should see it Cabaret

  • If you enjoyed any of the many previous versions of Cabaretincluding the 2014 Broadway revival (which was a re-edit of the 1998 revival), you’ll probably want to see Rebecca Frecknall’s production for comparison.
  • Fans of Eddie Redmayne’s turns on stage and screen, from Les Miserables to London’s West End, will want to take his turn as Emcee. Redmayne is only the third actor to play the role of Emcee in a film Cabaret production, following Joel Gray and Alan Cumming (each of whom has reprized their roles in revivals).
  • Fans of Netflix’s cult hit GLOW will enjoy seeing Gayle Rankin in a very different role as she storms the stage as Sally Bowles.

Learn more about Cabaret on Broadway

A new revival of Cabaret is hard to resist no matter who takes the stage. To really know if this production is on point, you have to visit the Kit Kat Club yourself.

Learn more about Cabaret on Broadway at New York Theater Guide. Cabaret is at the Kit Kat Club at the August Wilson Theater.

Photo credit: Cabaret on Broadway. (Photos by Marc Brenner)