"Environmental" B'way Cabaret Opens Mar. 19

News   "Environmental" B'way Cabaret Opens Mar. 19
 
Roundabout Theatre's Broadway revival of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret, co-directed by Sam Mendes and choreographer Rob Marshall, is currently in previews for a March 19 opening (recently pushed back four days from March 15).
Alan Cumming as the Emcee
Alan Cumming as the Emcee Photo by Photo by Joan Marcus

Roundabout Theatre's Broadway revival of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret, co-directed by Sam Mendes and choreographer Rob Marshall, is currently in previews for a March 19 opening (recently pushed back four days from March 15).

Broadway's former Henry Miller's Theatre, which has spent the last few years as the Club Expo disco, has been rechristened the Kit Kat Club for a revival of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret, which began previews Feb. 13. "Kit Kat Club" is the name of the cabaret in Cabaret, which will help emphasize the cabaret-within-a-Cabaret-within-a-cabaret concept of the production. Originating in London, this Cabaret was staged by director Sam Mendes in environmental theatre style, meaning that audiences were made to feel that they were in an actual 1930s Berlin cabaret from the moment they approached the theatre.

Spokesperson Danielle Billera said the space has been redesigned for the production as well.

Richardson starred opposite Liam Neeson in The Roundabout's hot-ticket revival of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie. Richardson trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in England and appeared in the films Patty Hearst and The Handmaid's Tale. Scottish actor Cumming was nominated for an Olivier Award for his performance as Cabaret's emcee. His films include Circle Of Friends and Emma.

Rifkin was initially supposed to appear in Neil Simon's Broadway Proposals but he left that role and will here play Herr Schutz. His other Broadway roles include A Month In The Country and Broken Glass, though his break-through roles were Off-Broadway in the Baitz dramas The Substance Of Fire and Three Hotels. Hickey starred in Manhattan Theatre Club's Blue Window; Pawk originated the role of Irene in Crazy For You. O'Hare appeared in Racing Demon and Off Broadway in Silence, Cunning, Exile and Lonely Planet.

Director Mendes told Variety he preferred Club Expo (on West 43rd St. -- formerly the Henry Miller Theatre, now the Kit Kat Klub) to the previous venue choice, the Supper Club. "[Club Expo is] the sort of thing we were trying to make the Donmar into, and in New York it already exists."

Robert Brill will design the set (Sue Blane was the London designer); Rob Marshall will be the choreographer (instead of Matthew Bourne, who will be working on Swan Lake in April 1998). Costumes are by William Ivey Long, lighting by Peggy Eisenhauer, with Brian Ronan on sound design.

Director Mendes has insisted on doing the 1966 show - about events swirling around a decadent Berlin cabaret at the dawn of the Nazi era -- in an actual cabaret setting. Club Expo will hold roughly 500 seats, making it a Broadway space (less than 499 seats). Food and drinks will be available, though there won't be a cabaret-style minimum.

For tickets ($50-$75) and information on Cabaret at Club Expo on West 43rd St., call (212) 719-1300. Tickets are also onsale at the Roundabout box office but not at the Kit Kat Klub box office. Evening performances begin a half hour earlier than usual, at 7:30 PM.

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Here's the Cabaret backstory:
Having lost its unorthodox venue, The Supper Club, Roundabout's revival of the John Kander & Fred Ebb musical announced its intention to postpone to spring 1998 back on Oct. 24, 1996. "We're run out of time for this season," Mendes said at the time. "[Roundabout Artistic Director] Todd [Haimes] and I do not want to make any compromises in staging the show."

The 350-seat Supper Club had been announced f ruary opening, but an Oct. 2, 1996 New York Post story said the deal has been quashed because the club couldn't give up previously-arranged bookings.

Andre Cortez, general manager of the Supper Club, confirmed the Post story, telling Playbill On-Line that the club and Roundabout "simply couldn't make an agreement," though he couldn't elaborate on upcoming acts at the space.

The irony is that before its extensive renovation, the Roundabout's second stage, now known as the Off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre, had been designed specifically for cabaret productons. When it had trouble getting consistent bookings, the space was rebuilt as a more traditional theatre.

John Kander & Fred Ebb's musical is based on the the "Berlin Stories" of Christopher Isherwood, composed between 1929-32. One story, "Sally Bowles," was adapted by playwright John van Druten into the play, I Am A Camera, which starred Julie Harris in 1952. Dramatist Joe Masteroff then collaborated with John Kander & Fred Ebb (Flora, The Red Menace, Kiss Of The Spider Woman) on Cabaret, which first came to Broadway Nov. 20, 1966 with Jill Haworth and Joel Grey. The latter repeated his role as the emcee in a 1987 revival at the Imperial Theatre.

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