Albums

Cabaret - Original Broadway Cast Recording 1966

Cabaret – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1966

Listen

Synopsis

Kander and Ebb’s score is equally adept at character numbers (ranging from comic pieces like “It Couldn’t Please Me More” to powerfully emotional items like “What Would You Do?”) and cabaret ditties that evoke the authentic sounds of Kurt Weill and Hans Eisler. When Kander was criticized by some for the Weill influence, Lenya told him, “No, darling. It is not Kurt. When I walk out on stage and sing those songs, it is Berlin.” A rundown of how the songs fit into the story will also serve to illustrate the evening’s modus operandi: Willkommen: A neon sign lights up, spelling out the show’s title. Emerging from the darkness, the Emcee, hair lacquered, mouth rouged into a cupid’s bow, welcomes us, not just to the Kit Kat Klub, but to the central metaphor of the musical about to unfold. So What?: American novelist Clifford Bradshaw arrives in Berlin on New Year’s Eve, 1929, hoping to find inspiration for his next book. When the price of a room in the rooming house recommended to him by German Ernst Ludwig proves too steep, landlady Fräulein Schneider summons up her customary ability to lower her expectations and accept things as they are. Don’t Tell Mama: Alone, Cliff attempts to do some writing, when a girl at a telephone appears from nowhere, summoning him to leave his typewriter for the Kit Kat Klub. There he sees the club’s madcap, not overly gifted young British singer Sally Bowles entertain. Telephone Song: Sally and Cliff connect immediately as the festivities at the club reach a fever pitch (thanks to Ron Field’s dazzlingly witty dance sequence). Perfectly Marvelous: Sally, who firmly maintains that politics has absolutely nothing to do with her, shows up at Cliff’s flat, and moves in. Two Ladies: Cliff and Sally are wiped away by the Emcee in limbo, appearing with two ladies of the ensemble to outline an unconventional living arrangement not unlike the one in the story. It Couldn’t Please Me More: Fräulein Schneider is wooed by Herr Schultz, the sweet Jewish fruit store proprietor who is her lodger and who cannot resist showering her with items from his shop. Tomorrow Belongs To Me: A group of well-scrubbed young waiters join the Emcee for a simple, pastoral hymn to the fatherland with an ominous undercurrent. Why Should I Wake Up?: Temporarily under the influence of Sally’s philosophy, Cliff has begun to surrender to the heedlessness around him; he knows he’s dreaming, but he’s decided not to care. But he needs money, so when Ernst, who appears to be working for some as-yet-unnamed political party, shows up at the flat and offers to pay him well for a quick smuggling chore, he agrees. The Money Song: The Emcee appears to tell us that there’s more than one way to make money. Banks may be failing, but as long as he has all that he needs, who cares? Married: Schneider and Schultz marvel at how becoming engaged changes everything. Meeskite: At the engagement party that Sally throws for them, Schultz entertains with a comic ditty heavy on Yiddish expressions. He is observed by Ernst, who now sports an armband and warns Schneider that the marriage is not advisable. Entr’acte: The all-girl Kit Kat Klub band is wheeled on to play for the audience before the house lights dim for the second act. If You Could See Her: The Emcee waltzes on with his lady love, a gorilla in a tutu, reminding us that prejudice is a bad thing and that it’s not fair to judge a book by its cover. What Would You Do?: Schneider returns Cliff and Sally’s party gift; determined to survive, she has cancelled her engagement and faced the fact that marriage to Schultz would destroy her income. Cabaret: Cliff, now aware of the encroaching Nazi menace, feuds with Sally and has an ugly brawl with Ernst at the club. The title song begins as a floor-show number, but when Sally steps through a curtain of black glitter and a wall of light, she is for the first time in limbo, and the song becomes her decision to abort Cliff’s child and stay in the unreal womb of the Kit Kat, the only place where she feels safe. Finale: As Cliff settles in on the train carrying him away from Berlin, he begins to write his new novel, recalling the city, the nightclub, the girl: “It was the end of the world and I was dancing with Sally Bowles – and we were both fast asleep.” He is wiped away by the Emcee, trying to make us believe that we have forgotten our troubles, all the while interrupted by characters from the play who remind us that we haven’t. Sally reaffirms her philosophy, disappears, and the Emcee bids us good night, bows, and vanishes, as the neon “Cabaret” sign lights up. – Ken Mandelbaum

Credits

Master Of Ceremonies: Joel Grey Clifford Bradshaw: Bert Convy Ernst Ludwig: Edward Winter Custom Official: Howard Kahl Fraulein Schneider: Lotte Lenya Herr Schultz: Jack Gilford Fräulein Kost: Peg Murray Telephone Girl: Tresha Kelly Kit Kat Klub Kittens: Maryann Burns, Janice Mink, Nancy Powers, Viola Smith Maitre d’: Frank Bouley Max: John Herbert Bartender: Ray Baron Sally Bowles: Jill Haworth Two Ladies: Mary Ehara, Rita O’Connor German Sailors: Bruce Becker, Steven Boockvor, Roger Briant, Edward Nolfi Frau Wendel: Mara Landi Herr Wendel: Eugene Morgan Frau Kruger: Miriam Lehmann-Haupt Herr Erdmann: Sol Frieder Kit Kat Girls: Pat Gosling, Lynn Winn, Bonnie Walker, Marianne Seibert, Kathie Dalton, Barbara Alston Bobby: Jere Admire Victor: Bert Michaels Greta: Jayme Mylroie Felix: Robert Sharp