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Cabaret: The New Broadway Cast Recording 1998

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Synopsis

Act One
At the Kit Kat Klub, a seedy cabaret in the Berlin of the early 1930s, the Master of Ceremonies, or Emcee (Alan Cumming), introduces his audience to the cabaret girls and waiters ("Willkommen"). Meanwhile, Clifford Bradshaw (John Benjamin Hickey), a young American writer, arrives at the Berlin train station, seeking inspiration for a new novel. Ernst Ludwig (Denis O’Hare), a German national whom he meets by chance, offers Cliff work, and recommends a place for him to live. Fräulein Schneider (Mary Louise Wilson), proprietress of the boardinghouse, offers Cliff a room for a hundred marks, but he can only afford fifty. After a brief debate, Fräulein Schneider philosophically accepts what he can pay – she has learned to accept whatever life has to offer ("So What?").

When Cliff visits the Kit Kat Klub, the Emcee introduces a British singer of middling talent, Sally Bowles (Natasha Richardson). She performs a racy number ("Don't Tell Mama"); she and Cliff get acquainted. He offers to escort Sally home, but she is afraid that her boyfriend, the club's owner, will be jealous. In the evening’s closing number, accompanied by the rest of the cabaret girls, Sally sings "Mein Herr".

The next day, Cliff is finishing up giving Ernst an English lesson when Sally arrives: her boyfriend has fired her from the Kit Kat Klub and thrown her out. Now she has no place to live. She convinces Cliff to take her in as a roommate ("Perfectly Marvelous"). Fräulein Schneider seems to have little objection. The Emcee and two cabaret girls (one a man in drag) stage a number ("Two Ladies") that parodies Cliff and Sally's unusual living arrangement.

In Fräulein Schneider's apartment, Herr Schultz (Ron Rifkin), a Jewish fruit-seller who resides in her boardinghouse, has given Fräulein Schneider a pineapple – apparently a courtship gift ("It Couldn't Please Me More"). Simultaneously, in the Kit Kat Klub, the Emcee spins a record of a popular Nazi anthem to the Fatherland ("Tomorrow Belongs to Me") sung by a boy soprano.

Some months later, Cliff and Sally are still living together. Cliff knows he is living a dream, but he enjoys it too much to take stock of reality. Sally is pregnant, unsure of who the father of the child is, and torn between carrying it and having an abortion (“Maybe This Time"). Cliff argues with her that it might be his own, and convinces her to have the baby.

Ernst enters with a lucrative proposition for Cliff – to pick up a suitcase in Paris and deliver it to Ernst’s "client" in Berlin. The song sung by the Emcee and the cabaret girls at the Klub serves as an apt commentary ("Money").

Meanwhile, Fräulein Schneider has discovered that one of her boarders, Fräulein Kost (Michele Pawk), has been bringing sailors regularly into her room. Fräulein Schneider forbids her from doing so again, but Fräulein Kost threatens to leave, observing that Fräulein Schneider frequently entertains Herr Schultz in her own room. Herr Schultz comes to Fräulein Schneider's rescue by claiming that he and Fräulein Schneider are soon to be married. Fräulein Schneider later thanks Herr Schultz for his little lie, but Herr Schultz tells her he is quite serious, and proposes ("Married").

At their engagement party, Cliff arrives and delivers the suitcase from Paris to Ernst, who is now wearing the armband of the Nazi party. Fräulein Kost meanwhile is seeking revenge against Fräulein Schneider and tells Ernst that Herr Schultz is a Jew. Ernst counsels Fräulein Schneider that to marry a Jew, in the current political climate, might not be a good idea. All the guests at the party join in a reprise of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me", while Cliff, Sally, Schneider, Schultz, and the Emcee stand apart.

Act Two
The Emcee is in drag, performing with the cabaret girls in a kick line which ultimately becomes a goose-step march. Fräulein Schneider expresses her worries to Herr Schultz, who assures her that everything will be all right ("Married" – Reprise), but suddenly they are interrupted by the sound of a brick crashing through the window of Herr Schultz's fruit shop. Schultz tries to reassure his fiancée that it is just children playing pranks.

Back at the Klub, the Emcee is doing a number ("If You Could See Her") with a girl in a gorilla suit, Their love, it seems, is viewed with general disapproval. He wishes people would be more open-minded: "If you could see her through my eyes ... she wouldn't look Jewish at all."

Fräulein Schneider visits Cliff and Sally in their room to return their engagement present, announcing that her marriage has been called off. Cliff protests that she can't just give in to this kind of pressure, but she wonders what other choice she has ("What Would You Do?").

Cliff wants to take Sally back home to America so that they can raise their baby together, but Sally protests that their life in Berlin is wonderful as it is. “Wake up!” pleads Cliff; can’t she see how menacing the growing unrest is around them? Sally retorts that German politics have nothing to do with their private lives. On stage, the Emcee echoes her detachment, though from a rather different point of view (“I Don’t Care Much”).

Ernst has another delivery job for Cliff, who tries to brush him off. But when Ernst asks if Cliff's attitude has anything to do with "that Jew at the party", Cliff goes after him, only to get beaten up by his Nazi bodyguards and dragged out of the Klub. The Emcee welcomes Sally, who has been engaged to perform at the Klub again. As Sally finishes her song ("Cabaret"), she breaks down in tears.

In his room the next morning, Cliff is painfully packing when Herr Schultz enters. Schultz is moving to another boardinghouse, but he is sure that the bad times will soon pass – after all, he is German too, and understands the Germans’ way of thinking. Sally comes back and reveals that she has had an abortion. Cliff hits her. Though he still hopes against hope that she will leave with him, Sally claims that she has always hated Paris, She only hopes that Cliff will dedicate his novel to her. Cliff leaves, bruised and heartbroken.

Cliff begins to write his novel on the train to Paris,, calling up memories of the cabaret: (Finale). Now the Emcee removes his outer clothes to reveal the striped pajamas of a concentration camp prisoner, emblazoned with two badges: a Star of David and a pink triangle. "Auf Wiedersehen ... à bientôt.”

– LEC

Credits

Emcee: Alan Cumming
The Kit Kat Girls:
Rosie: Christina Pawl
Lulu: Erin Hill
Frenchie: Joyce Chittick
Texas: Leenya Rideout
Fritzie: Michele Pawk
Helga: Kristin Olness
The Kit Kat Boys:
Bobby: Michael O’Donnell
Victor: Brian Duguay
Hans: Bill Szobody
Herman: Fred Rose
Sally Bowles: Natasha Richardson
Clifford Bradshaw: John Benjamin Hickey
Ernst Ludwig: Denis O’Hare
Customs Officials: Fred Rose, Alan Cumming
Fraulein Schneider: Mary Louise Wilson
Fraulein Kost: Michele Pawk
Rudy: Bill Szobody
Herr Schulz: Ron Rifkin
Max: Fred Rose
Gorilla: Joyce Chittick
Boy Soprano (pre-recorded): Alex Bowen

The Kit Kat Band:
Musical Director/Piano: Patrick Vaccariello
Assistant Musical Director/Keyboards: Fred Lassen
Drums: Guy Tillman
Bass: Bill Sloat
Trumpets: Rich Raffio, Christina Pawl, Linda Romoff
Trombone: Bill Szobody
Clarinets: Denis O’Hare, Michael O’Donnell
Clarinet/Tenor Sax: Kristin Olness
Alto and Tenor Sax: Brian Duguay
Alto Sax: Joyce Chittick
Alto Sax/Flute/Harp: Erin Hill
Violin: Leenya Rideout
Cello: Fred Rose
Accordion: Michele Pawk
Banjo: Vance Avery
Additional musicians for the recording:
Tenor and Bass Trombones: Dale Kirkland
Alto Sax/Flute/Clarinet: Harvey Estrin
Soprano Sax/Bb and A Clarinet: William Shadel
Tenor Sax/Clarinet: Vincent della Rocca