"There's something about having the time off and having it be August instead of July -- you feel like the summer is over," said Denis O'Hare, who plays Ernst Ludwig in the Broadway revival of Cabaret, which reopens Aug. 20. "There's the first chill in the air today. It feels like we're all a little older, a little wiser."
A month older, to be precise. That's how long its been since a Times Square construction accident closed the Roundabout Theatre Company's hit production, handing O'Hare and his fellow cast members impromptu vacations. After 35 canceled shows and $1.5 million in lost revenue, Cabaret's cast and crew ventured back into the Kit Kat Klub for rehearsals Aug. 18.
Walking Aug. 19 down the newly reopened block of W. 43rd street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, where the Kit Kat Klub is located, the only hint that anything had happened on this street is a security officer, who waived people off the sidewalk lining the now-repaired Conde Nast tower. Inside the adjacent Kit Kat, the theatre looked just as it did before the accident, the small red lamps on the black cocktail tables lending the space a congenial glow. Associate Director Jennifer Uphoff Gray said that, aside from some water damage on the mezzanine level and some heavy-duty dusting, there was little to do in getting the space back in shape.
"It feels like we never left," said cast member Fred Rose.
"Within ten minutes of being here," echoed O'Hare, "everyone went `Oh my God, we never left.' " Both Rose and O'Hare do double duty as part of the Kit Kat Orchestra -- Rose on cello and O'Hare on clarinet. They'd just completed a rehearsal with the band, setting sound levels for new stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Blair Brown, who are taking over the roles of Sally Bowles and Fraulein Schneider, respectively. "My fingers are extremely sore today," said Rose, "because I haven't played in a month and the cello strings really do a number on you when your callouses go away." O'Hare, too, admitted to neglecting his instrument. With the show resuming performances Aug. 20, O'Hare must make other sacrifices as well. "I have to shave now, which is a bummer," he said.
The first few days of Cabaret's eclipse were rather anxiety ridden, admitted O'Hare. "The terrible thing was not knowing from day to day, and being on tenterhooks." But soon, he took advantage of the time off. He caught up on his movies and plays and took in several museum shows. He also spent time polishing a screenplay. Rose flew back to his home state of Colorado. "I got up in the mountains and back to my roots and let Cabaret go," he said.
Cabaret director "Sam [Mendes] made a good point," explained O'Hare. "He said `Use this time. People never get this opportunity to go away and stop thinking about their show, to totally clean out, and come back to it fresh.' "
Neither Rose nor O'Hare have any worries about getting the show back on its feet. They've been rehearsing with Leigh and Brown over the past month. And Leigh, though she never rehearsed in the Kit Kat Klub until Tuesday, looked remarkably calm as she stretched on stage.
As far as getting to work every day is concerned, O'Hare said he doesn't believe lightning -- in the form of another tragedy -- will strike twice on 43rd Street. And Rose rarely worries about the chance of another accident. "Only when I look up," he said.