Given the rave reviews and multiple award nominations, the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Cabaret would likely be a hot ticket in any theatre. Given that its venue, the Kit Kat Klub, has only 500 seats, the frustration for ticket buyers is especially strong, sometimes made worse when many discover their sightlines are partially obstructed by the table-and-chair seating arrangements.
Newsday reporter (and Playbill On-Line contributor) Patrick Pacheco reports (May 12) the Roundabout isn't taking this plight lightly, especially since the small number of seats means the sell-out show can barely break even. (The show raised its top tickets from $75 to $80 last week -- a Broadway high, not counting Ragtime's VIP seating.) That's why director Sam Mendes is apparently looking at moving the show to another site, possibly the old Studio 54 dance club.
An unnamed source told Newsday PACE Theatrical Group, which already invested half a million in the show in exchange for touring rights, is seriously considering a move. Scott Zeiger, president of PACE, would not comment on the Studio 54 angle but did have some insights on Cabaret's upcoming national tour.
"We're working with Mendes and Bob Marshall coordinating their schedules," Zeiger told Playbill On-Line (May 13). "We've sent our set designer, head carpenter and technical designer on a road trip to major markets. We figure the first year and a half of the tour should be in adapted theatres, with seats ripped out to accommodate tables and chairs, or actual cabarets. Probably after that, the show will be further revised to fit stages on the traditional touring circuit. I imagine a long and healthy trek across North America."
Continued Zeiger, "I hope to have the tour out in less than a year, while the New York show production is still running. Also, once we get the tour going, we want to reinstitute the show, with a British company, on the West End. Cabaret started in the 275-seat Donmar Warehouse and closed with people still banging on the door to get in." The irony of all this talk about a bigger house for Cabaret is that Mendes initially looked at and rejected Studio 54 and other venues because they lacked the intimacy and grit he wanted for the show's atmosphere. Also complicating matters: the show would likely have to change from its League of Resident Theatres contract to a standard union contract if it made a commercial move; plus many of the actors also play instruments in the "byoodeeful" Cabaret orchestra.
Roundabout Theatre's Broadway revival of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret, co-directed by Sam Mendes and choreographer Rob Marshall, opened Mar. 19 and was quickly extended to November. Star Natasha Richardson's contract runs only to mid-May, 1998, at which point (says production spokesperson Erin Dunn), she has the option to extend her engagement as Sally Bowles.
One thing that might keep Richardson in NY longer, though, is that her husband, Liam Neeson, stars in The Judas Kiss on Broadway throughout the summer. Richardson and Neeson met when they starred together in the Roundabout's Anna Christie.
Scottish co-star Alan Cumming, as the leering emcee, is signed with the show through September.
For tickets ($50-$80) and information on Cabaret at the Kit Kat Klub 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.
Like the Kit Kat Klub, Studio 54 was originally a Broadway theatre. The Klub opened as Henry Miller's Theatre, and still bears that name engraved on its facade. Studio 54 opened in 1927 as the Gallo Opera House. Its first drama was Electra starring Antoinette Perry, namesake of the Tony Awards. Several flops followed, even after the theatre was renamed the New Yorker in 1930, according to the book "Lost Broadway Theatres" by Nicholas Van Hoogstratten. In the depths of the Great Depression, the space was refurbished as a nightclub, the Casino de Paris in 1933, but failed within a year. Several more name changes followed: It was the Palladium, the Federal Music Theatre, and the New Yorker again, before ending (the first chapter of?) its career as a legitimate theatre.
In 1942 CBS acquired the theatre for use as a TV studio, naming it Studio 52, which name it kept for the next three decades. When Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager acquired it in the 1970s, they renamed it Studio 54, after 54th Street on which it stands. Under that name it became one of the icons of the 1970s disco era.