Life Is A Cabaret…

Emma Stone  broadway.com photo: Liindsay Champion
Emma Stone
broadway.com photo: Lindsay Champion

Since life is a Cabaret, I joined in.

Last night I saw the Broadway play for the second time.

I was intrigued to see Emma Stone transfer to Broadway. She did an admirable job, but who can get Liza Minelli’s voice out of their head when listening to, Maybe This Time and Cabaret.

The audience tends to forget that Sally Bowles was not a gifted songstress so Emma’s servicable, sweet voice worked, but I am spoiled. When I see a Broadway musical,  I want to hear amazing voices.

Emma was charming, coquettish and seductive…those big blues eyes sure do project.

Cast of Cabaret photo: Pari Dukovic
Cast of Cabaret
photo: Pari Dukovic

The charismatic Alan Cumming was unbelievable. He is an actor I make the effort to see in every production. He is extremely frantic and entertaining as Eli Gold in the tv show, The Good Wife (I marvel at his perfected American accent as he speaks with a heavy Scottish brogue) and I was blown away by his Broadway performance last year in Macbeth.

Emma Stone was supposed to star in the latest Broadway production of Cabaret. She had to pull out at the last minute due to scheduling problems. Michelle Williams took her place and received mediocre reviews.

emma opening
photo:broadway.com

On November 11th, Stone replaced Michelle Williams at the Roundabout Theatre’s Studio 54. “I’ve wanted to play Sally Bowles since I was 10, when I saw Natasha Richardson in Cabaret,” says the 26-year-old Broadway newcomer. “Rob Marshall, co-director with Sam Mendes, “said to me that Sally is like Hamlet for women. I don’t think I’ve ever been so truly obsessed with a character or a story. I can’t believe this is actually happening!”

Her arrival in Cabaret coincides with the plot of Birdman, where the main character (played by Michael Keaton) is a washed-up film actor who decides to star in a Broadway show in hopes of reviving his career. Ms. Stone plays his daughter.

I highly recommend, Birdman. It was riveting and althought the ending was a little unsatisfying, the screenplay was well written and the acting was superb all around.

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The setting for Cabaret at Studio 54 is spectacular. Drinking is encouraged. The audience is up close and personal from just about every seat.

The first time I saw Cabaret on Broadway was in 1998 with Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming. I sat in the front row at one of the small club tables and felt intimately involved. Last night, I paid $80 at TKTS and sat two levels above the floor and they were still fabulous seats.

The supporting cast and orchestra are first rate. Danny Burstein is stellar as always. He plays the role of Herr Schultz, the Jewish fruit store owner and intended to Fraulein Schneider.

Aaron Krohn as Ernst Ludwig is conniving and dark as a committed Nazi, Bill Heck as Clifford Bradshaw is excellent, sexually confused yet attractive to all and Gayle Rankin as Fraulein Kost is exceptionally bawdy and humorous. She leaves the show on December 21st.

Kristie Dale Sanders subbed for Linda Emond last night and was very good as Fraulein Schneider, although I have no basis for comparison not having seen Emond in the role.

The John Kander and Fred Ebb music and lyrics are timeless. William Ivey Long’s costumes are perfectly risque and Robert Brill’s sets are compelling.

I read that Emma Stone said she was not taking on Cabaret because she was trying to reinvent herself. “I don’t have some crazy idea that I’ve earned it. Trust me, I’m not walking around deluding myself thinking: ‘I’m Patti LuPone! I’m Bernadette Peters! Get me my dressing room!’ I’m just glad the chance came around again to earn my stripes as Sally.”

The Broadway revival of Cabaret had solid ticket sales last week for the first set of performances starring the film actress.

photo:nytimes.com
photo:nytimes.com

I would definitely recommend seeing this production with the enticing Emma Stone and the seemingly nonchalant yet sensitive and poignant emcee, Alan Cumming.

We tend to forget that Cabaret is a truly dark political story wrapped in an disturbingly exuberant package. It shows the decadent excesses and desperation of bohemian Berlin on the eve of the Third Reich.

Hope and romance are a constant theme, but that is overshadowed and destroyed by the ascendency of Adolph Hitler. The two lovers watch as their lives and the world they once knew crumble around them.

Life is a Cabaret…submerge yourself in 1929-30 and engage in the debachery and musical high notes taking place at Berlin’s Kit Kat Klub.

Cabaret Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday-Saturday 8pm, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Cabaret runs through March 29th, 2015.

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