By Ben Rimalower
31 Aug 2013
|photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Sally Bowles, in Cabaret
Like most people, my idea of Sally Bowles (or at least a musical Sally Bowles, all due respect to Christopher Isherwood and Julie Harris and everybody...) begins and ends with Liza Minnelli's Oscar-winning, career-defining triumph in Bob Fosse's landmark 1972 film "Cabaret." Most actresses I've seen as Sally Bowles either lose me by failing to live up to the Minnelli mold or by going in a different direction in which I do not care to follow. I happened to move to New York right after Natasha Richardson left her Tony-winning run as Sally in the Roundabout Theatre Company's hit 1998 revival. I did, however, manage to see Jennifer Jason Leigh who took over and for the first time, my preconceptions about the character were circumvented. Forget about living up to Liza's legendary versions of the songs, Leigh's Sally was almost anti-musical, a punk take on the score. Her approach to Sally's transparent, cloying neediness was fascinatingly guarded and ultimately, surprisingly moving. I walked away thinking this take on the part balanced the show better, particularly opposite such brilliant co-stars as Alan Cumming, John Benjamin Hickey, Mary Louise Wilson, Ron Rifkin, Denis O'Hare and Michele Pawk. Leigh's Sally lingered in my mind. Continued...