On April 19-24, the Durham Performing Arts Center will host a decidedly darker version of the divinely decadent 1966 Broadway and 1968 West End musical, Cabaret, as part of its 2015-16 SunTrust Broadway Series. The original Broadway production won eight 1967 Tony Awards®, including the Tonys for Best Musical and Best Original Score (by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb). But the New York City-based Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2016 national tour is based on the 1998 Broadway revival of the show, co-directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall and choreographed by Marshall, which earned 10 Tony Award nominations and won four Tonys, including the award for Best Revival of a Musical.
The Roundabout Theatre Company produced the 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret and the 2014 Broadway revival of the show, which were both “inspired by” the 1993 London revival of Cabaret, which was produced by the Donmar Warehouse and directed by Sam Mendes. The 1998 Broadway revival opened on Feb 13, 1998 at the Kit Kat Klub (now the Stephen Sondheim Theatre), and then transferred to Studio 54, where it reopened on Nov. 12, 1998, and had a combined total of 2,377 performances before it closed on Jan. 4, 2004. The 2014 Broadway revival opened on April 24, 2014 at Studio 54, where it closed on March 29, 2015, after 388 performances.
B.T. McNicholl is directing the current tour, based on Sam Mendes’ original direction; and the 1998 Broadway revival’s associate choreographer, Cynthia Onrubia, is recreating Rob Marshall’s original choreography. The 2016 tour, which kicked off on Jan. 26th at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, RI, and will conclude on Nov. 13th at the Belk Theater at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC, stars Randy Harrison of television’s Queer As Folk and Broadway’s Wicked as the outrageous Emcee of Berlin’s seedy Kit Kat Klub; and Andrea Goss, who played Frenchie and also played violin and piano in the Kit Kat Band in the 2014 Broadway revival of Cabaret, as Kit Kat Klub’s star attraction, sultry British nightclub singer Sally Bowles.
The tour also stars Lee Aaron Rosen as American writer Clifford “Cliff” Bradshaw, who hopes to find grist for his creative mill in the capital of the Deutsches Reich during what turned out to be the latter days of the short-lived Weimar Republic (1919-33); Shannon Cochran as his elderly German landlady Fräulein Schneider; Mark Nelson as her beau, the elderly German-Jewish fruit-shop proprietor Herr Schultz; Ned Noyes as wealthy German businessman and secret Nazi sympathizer Ernst Ludwig; and Alison Ewing as the prostitute Fräulein Kost, who also rents a room from the increasingly outraged Fraulein Schneider.
“I was thrilled to see the original production of Cabaret at age 12,” says 60-year-old Westwood, NJ native and 1977 Princeton University graduate (BA, English) Mark Nelson, who lectures on theater at his alma mater during the university’s fall semesters, in-between acting gigs. Nelson adds, “That Hal Prince production had a huge mirror on the set; and after the Nazis arrived, the play ended with a reflection of the audience in the mirror.”
He adds, “The new production has darkened and deepened the meaning of the show; and as we’ve traveled the country in this election year, we’ve found how sadly relevant it still is.”
Nelson notes, “The Sally Bowles that I saw on Broadway in 1967 was Anita Gillette.. About 20 years later, I worked with her on Broadway in Brighton Beach Memoirs. I was able to bring in my souvenir program from 1967 for her to sign.”
Mark Nelson, who is Jewish, plays Herr Schultz, who’s the only Jewish character in the play, he points out. Nelson says, “I adore him. I think he’s the champion of the value of love in the play. The fact that Sam Mendes’ vision of Cabaret is raunchier, seedier, and scarier only heightens the fact that Herr Schultz is a beam of love in the middle of all that.”
Herr Schultz and Fräulein Schneider put a human face on the ordinary Germans who would be caught up in the maelstrom unleashed when Adolf Hitler became Reich Chancellor of Germany, on Jan. 30, 1933, just three years after the events depicted in Cabaret end. Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz were the ones to reap the whirlwind.
“Herr Schultz and Fräulein Schneider certainly represent an older European world view that’s touched with gentility and chivalry and an ideal of romance …, says Mark Nelson. He adds, “Herr Schultz holds on to the idea of human dignity and the idea that love will prevail…. Even when he realizes that the Nazis are unstoppable, he doesn’t lose faith.”
Nelson adds, “All the raunchiness and openly cynical sexuality in this production, which is great fun to watch, throws our romance into high contrast and sweetens it. The old couple are like sweet, shy kids; and the young couple [Sally and Cliff] are the jaded ones, the ones for whom sex is a cynical transaction. For Herr Schultz and Fräulein Schneider, it’s a ‘miracle’ that they’ve found each other in old age.”
Nelson says that Danny Burstein, who played Herr Schultz on Broadway last year, warned him not to do too much Holocaust reading, because Herr Schultz doesn’t believe it’s going to happen and “having the Holocaust too much in mind undercuts the hope that’s needed to play the role….”
“Herr Schultz has a couple of lines that reflect the current news and get a reaction from the audience that we didn’t expect,” says Nelson. “That’s one of the surprises for me from this tour.”
One of those lines is “It’s not always good to settle for the lowest apple.” Nelson says, “I think that many people are afraid that we’re settling for the lowest apple on the tree” in the upcoming presidential election.
“[Cabaret] is not about a distant time and place; it’s about us,” says Mark Nelson. “… Those lines were written 50 years ago about an election 80 years ago, but they’re still about us.”
SECOND OPINION: April 14th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/news/life-as-cabaret-roundabout-theatre-s-artistic-director-talks-about/article_87e2fe78-01c1-11e6-b660-b3059fec3ff3.html (Note: You must subscribe to read this article); April 13th Burlington, NC Times-News preview by Rachel Teseneer for “Teens & Twenties”: http://teensandtwenties.com/greensboro-native-embraces-role-in-cabaret/; and Dec. 10th New York, NY Playbill.com preview by Adam Hetrick and Michael Gioia: http://www.playbill.com/article/cabaret-national-tour-introduces-its-emcee-and-sally-bowles-com-375005.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents CABARET at 7:30 p.m. April 19-21, 8 p.m. April 22, 2 and 8 p.m. April 23, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. April 23 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $30-$145 (including fees). Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1889427.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
STUDY GUIDE: http://cabaretmusical.com/pdf/cabaret.pdf.
TOUR CAST: http://cabaretmusical.com/cast-creative/.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM (scroll down): http://cabaretmusical.com/cast-creative/.
2015-16 SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series-2015-16.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21st, and 8 p.m. Thursday, April 23rd, performances.
Goodbye to Berlin (1939 short novel): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodbye_to_Berlin (Wikipedia).
Christopher Isherwood (English novelist, 1904-86): http://isherwoodfoundation.org/ (Christopher Isherwood Foundation), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/4836 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0410877/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Isherwood (Wikipedia).
John Van Druten (playwright): http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/6910 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0886668/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Van_Druten (Wikipedia).
I Am a Camera (1955 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/78756/I-Am-a-Camera/ (Turner Classic Movies), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048188/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_a_Camera_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Cabaret (1966 Broadway and 1968 West End musical): http://www.ibdb.com/Show/View/2338 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabaret_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
John Kander (composer, 1927-): http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/6837 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0437218/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kander (Wikipedia).
Fred Ebb (lyricist, 1928-2004): http://www.fredebbfoundation.org/ (Fred Ebb Foundation), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/5654 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0247939/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Ebb (Wikipedia).
Joe Masteroff (playwright, 1919-): http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/6762 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0557646/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Masteroff (Wikipedia).
Cabaret (1972 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/21780/Cabaret/ (Turner Classic Movies), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068327/ (Internet Movie Database), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabaret_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Cabaret (1998 Broadway revival): http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=4848 (Internet Broadway Database) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabaret_%28musical%29#1998_Broadway_revival (Wikipedia).
B.T. McNicholl (director) http://cabaretmusical.com/cast-member/creative/id/15 (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/70538 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0574008/ (Internet Broadway Database).
Mark Nelson (actor who plays Herr Schultz and Princeton University lecturer in theater): http://arts.princeton.edu/people/profiles/msnelson/ (Princeton University bio), http://www.playbill.com/person/detail/39416 (Playbill.com bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/72430 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/3632 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0625588/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/nelsonnyc (Facebook page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Nelson_%28actor%29 (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing email@example.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)