Tony Honchos To Weigh Cabaret's Eligibility, Jan. 22

Tony Awards   Tony Honchos To Weigh Cabaret's Eligibility, Jan. 22 The Tony Administration Committee will meet Jan. 22 to discuss Tony eligibility for the Kit Kat Klub, a former disco that is being brought back into the legitimate fold for the upcoming revival of Cabaret.

The Tony Administration Committee will meet Jan. 22 to discuss Tony eligibility for the Kit Kat Klub, a former disco that is being brought back into the legitimate fold for the upcoming revival of Cabaret.

With more than 500 seats (the contractual minimum for Broadway is 499), the new Kit Kat Klub (built as Henry Miller's Theatre in 1918) would seem to meet the primary criterion.

The Roundabout Theatre's revival of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret, co-directed by Mendes and choreographer Rob Marshall, began rehearsals Dec. 8, with Feb. 13, 1998 the first preview (recently pushed back from Jan. 20) and March 15 the opening date for the show's open run (pushed back from Feb. 19).

"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 is being redesigned for the production as well.

That said, the pressing question is whether the production will qualify for Tony Award consideration. Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming were previously announced as definite for the cast. New actors announced Dec. 4 include Ron Rifkin (Shultz) and Mary Louise Wilson (Schneider), alongside John Benjamin Hickey (Cliff), Dennis O'Hare (Ernst) and Michelle Pawk (Fraulein Kost). Patrick Vaccariello serves as musical director. 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.

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Asked about the long delay in announcing what was essentially a fait accompli back in the summer, spokesperson Erin Dunn told Playbill On-Line that all the contracts hadn't been signed and they were afraid to announce anything prematurely "Because of what happened with the Supper Club last year."

Director Mendes told Variety he preferred Club Expo (on West 43rd St. -- formerly the Henry Miller Theatre) 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.

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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 for a February 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 originally starred Jill Haworth and Joel Grey. The latter repeated his role as the emcee in a 1987 revival at the Imperial Theatre.

Cabaret first came to Broadway Nov. 20, 1966.

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