Show/Venue: Cabaret at the Kit Kat Klub at Studio 54
Date: Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 @ 7pm
Starring: Alan Cumming, Emma Stone
I finally was able to get tickets to see Emma Stone as Sally Bowles in her Broadway debut, but it wasn’t easy. Almost every performance between when I got back to NYC post-Britney Spears to when Stone leaves was sold out. Finally, I was able to get tickets for the Tuesday night show. After I seeing Michelle Williams in the role earlier last year, I was anxious to see how Emma would compare. One thing I knew for sure, Alan Cumming would be brilliant, and he was.
For this production of Cabaret, Studio 54 has been turned into the Kit Kat Klub with tables, lights and a little bit of audience participation. Cumming is reprising his Tony-Award winning role as the Emcee and doesn’t disappoint. He’s the right amount of coy, playful and seductive as he draws the crowd into the club and introduces the girls through the opening number, “Willkommen.”
In the beginning of Act One, we are introduced to Clifford Bradshaw (Bill Heck), an American writer, traveling to Berlin to work on his novel. On the train he meets German businessman, Ernst Ludwig (Aaron Krohn), and their relationship is formed. Ludwig passes an unmarked briefcase into Cliff’s luggage as the train is inspected and then as a favor in return gives Cliff the name of a motel, where he can stay at a discounted rate.
This motel is owned and operated by Fraulein Schneider (Linda Edmond), who sings about her life’s work in “So What” and her life of spinster-dom. Through her song, we meet some of her guests and their own storylines. Ludwig helps Bradshaw settle into a room at Fraulein Schneider’s residence and then Cliff gets swayed to go out to the nearby Kit Kat Klub on his first night in Berlin.
The first time Stone appears, she’s slinking around the top of the stage near the orchestra. Her big entrance is during her performance at the Kit Kat Klub, as she sings “Don’t Tell Mama.” In this role, Sally is telling the audience how her mama thinks that she’s at a convent, and while trying to be cute and bashful, I was a little bit turned off. Stone has a great voice (as some people might remember when she was Emily Stone on the reality show, The New Partridge Familiy), with a raspy, smoky quality similar to “Bossy”-era Lindsay Lohan. However, when compared with Williams’ voice, I was more convinced of Sally’s backstory with Williams.
Stone follows up this number with “Mein Herr,” a darker number with the Kit Kat Girls. After Sally’s performances at the Kit Kat Klub, she’s informed that she is being fired by the Klub’s owner, and her boyfriend, Max. Sally then retreats to Cliff’s room at his hotel, where their relationship is established in “Perfectly Marvelous.”
What follows is a playful number with Cumming and two of the ensemble members, “Two Ladies,” even though one is clearly a man. The audience then sees more of Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz’s relationship as he brings her fruit from his fruit store and a romance begins to blossom.
Through the next few numbers, Sally reveals that she is pregnant and Cliff vows to take care of her and the child, even if it is not his own. Stone’s voice brings character to “Maybe This Time,” but I found that Williams gave a more vulnerable and empathetic performance of this number. Cliff agrees to help Ludwig transport unmarked suitcases from Paris to Berlin and will in turn, receive quite a large amount of money in the trade.
We then move onto an engagement party for Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, where it is revealed that Ludwig is a part of the Nazi party and he then encourages Fraulein Schneider to rethink her plans to marry Herr Schultz, as he is Jewish. Act One ends with Cumming revealing a bare ass cheek with a swastika painted on it.
Act Two begins with a Kit Kat Girls kick line and the Emcee is cleverly disguised as one of the girls. We learn early on that Fraulein Schneider has called of her wedding to Herr Schultz and begin to see the face of Berlin change, as the Nazis come to power.
The Emcee has a number, “If You Could See Her,” where he is dancing with a gorilla (Andrea Goss, who I loved in Once, and also plays Frenchie in this show) to point out how the culture has started to view Jews in Berlin at this time in history. Cliff and Sally’s relationship starts to break up, as she does not want to leave Berlin for the United States. Cliff understands the dangers of staying in Germany and wants to get Sally and their child out of the country as fast as possible. Sally then rebels by having the baby aborted and resuming her job at the Kit Kat Klub.
Overall, Cabaret is not a musical that will leave you feeling uplifted and optimistic at its end, but it did bring up some emotions and keeps the discourse of racism and intolerance going; which is very relevant into today’s society.
I’m glad that I got the chance to see Emma Stone as Sally, but I almost wish that she was more in character. Sometimes, it just seemed as if she were Olive, her character from Easy A, pretending to be British. But her name does draw in the crowds, so it was a smart move, overall by the Roundabout Theatre Company.
2. So What
3. Don’t Tell Mama
4. Mein Herr
5. Perfectly Marvelous
6. Two Ladies
7. It Couldn’t Please Me More
8. Tomorrow Belongs to Me
9. Maybe This Time
12. Tomorrow Belongs to Me (Reprise)
2. Kick Line
3. Married (Reprise)
4. If You Could See Her
5. What Would You Do?
6. I Don’t Care Much