Fifth in a series

NEW YORK – “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club” is a rarity. The latest reincarnation of the John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff musical, looks like a circus and indeed plays like one, preceded by a pre-show party of drinks, songs and dancing.

And Eddie Redmayne, as the fabled emcee, occasionally is dressed like a clown (with a cute party cap) but sort of engaged in the role of a circus ringmaster doubling as a nightclub barker. This is a visually stunning Olivier-winning production, staged in the round at the August Wilson Theatre. Redmayne has committed to a six-month run through Sept. 24, 2024, so if you are inclined to take in this show, book a flight. Oh, he doesn’t perform Monday nights.

Eddie Redmayne is the clownish Emcee in “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club.

You’ll find Redmayne fascinating, beginning with the keynote drumroll, part of the customary “Willkommen” welcome. You know, everything is beautiful inside; leave your troubles outside.

The show is staged in the round, meaning audiences see slightly different perspectives, depending on where you’re seated. I opted for the orchestra seats, one of two locales available on the set-up, and two balcony zones are above orchestra.

This in-the-round stage from London has been reimagined in New York.

The in-the-round format embraces a revolving circular performance platter, with a central circular sector which enables Redmayne and his cast to enter from the depths or escape in the two-tier hatch resembling an over-sized birthday cake.

This circular exit-entrance is one of five demanding passageways. Imagine a capital X; all actors utilize each point of the alphabet, often with an occasional leap, so there’s lurking possible danger, even for the up-front viewers. But the crew seems confident and ready for the logistic challenges. Why not? Director Rebecca Fracknall earned a Best Director Olivier trophy for her vision.

Redmayne undoubtedly is the most outrageous Emcee to date, ranging from a welcoming host to a raucous, slightly manic challenger threat of Hitler.

Vocally, he carries his weight and is robust and ravishing, in all his solos, including “Welcome to Berlin,” “Maybe This Time,” and “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” delivering power and stamina. He’s priceless, when he’s supported by the Kit Kats on “Money,” oozing charisma. And he’s literally the host of the Kit Kat Club and also the audience at the August Wilson.

But he is not the lone star in this galaxy; Gayle Rankin as the love-seeking chanteuse Sally Bowles, is a scintillating match, reflecting passion and hope. “Maybe This Time” is her show-stopper.

The plot features a gay American author, Clifford Bradshaw (Ato Blankson-Hood, excellent), who is in Berlin in search of inspiration for his novel. He meets Sally on the first night and they become coo some twosome, and both are broke and eager for company, so she quietly moves into his rental.

Steven Skybell is Herr Schultz, Bebe Newirth is Fraulein Schneider.

The author’s landlady is Fraulein Schneider (Bebe Neuwirth, oozing kindness and empathy), who has a warm relationship with a Jewish renter,  Herr Schulz (Steven Skybell, a beau and a gentleman).  They have the kind of chemistry that wins Tony Awards.

Arriving in the midst of  New York’s Pride Month celebration, “Cabaret” boasts an ensemble of singers and dancers of assertive sizes, shapes and races, and perhaps a trans, too – difficult to know because of the glorious and risqué costumes, bathed in lively, exotic and mood-setting lights and sound, with non-stop, dynamic choreography by Julia Cheng, all in synch with music directed by Jennifer White

And that’s Show Biz…

2 Replies to “LIFE IS A ‘CABARET,’ OL’ CHUM”

  1. What a fabulous review, Wayne! I feel as if I’ve been there to see it. You are totally whetting my appetite for NYC and Broadway….,

  2. As a fashionista, you’ll be fascinated by the array of costumes. Imaginative, garish, but properly show-bizzy, The producers redid the theater, reinvented the orchestra section into a cozy, nightclub with that revolving stage.

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