PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Cabaret — Cumming & Going & Cumming Again

By Harry Haun
25 Apr 2014

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Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Does a Cats dancer who has turned movie director ever want to return to his roots? Marshall nodded an emphatic yes. "I think I'm anxious to come back to Broadway now. It's nice to be able to do this in the middle of the film work. I feel like it's time."

Strutting around the stage like evil incarnate, breaking out into perverse song-and-dance, hovering menacingly over book scenes, Cumming is as good as one doubtlessly remembers. It's an iconic musical creation — and somehow even more impressive.

"I don't feel like I'm just repeating something," he said. "It's been long enough that I feel like I'm rediscovering something that's in my bones, in my DNA, and I've really enjoyed doing that with entirely new people. And also coming back to the experience when I did it first is so overwhelming to me. I can enjoy it more now."

Not only has he changed, so have the times. "The whole sexuality thing is not as sensational as it was before, but it really freaked some people out then."



Making her Broadway (and musical) debut in the role of Sally Bowles, a determined gadfly and wannabe chanteuse in roiling Berlin of 1929-30, is the commendably game and brave Michelle Williams, who's usually breaking hearts and winning Oscar nominations (one as Marilyn Monroe, which was more than Marilyn ever did).

"I'm not trained for the stage," Williams admitted by way of explaining why she's only getting around to it now. "I'm all instinct. I'm no training. Hopefully, some of that works for Sally Bowles." It does, which was why Harold Prince went with the late Jill Haworth over Liza Minnelli in the original 1966 production. Of course, Liza got the movie, the career and the Oscar, and, in the current edition of Forbidden Broadway, she has transitioned into the role of Fraulein Schneider without any discernible loss of volume or star power.

But let the record show that, on opening night, Williams got thunderous applause for belting out two of Minnelli's signature songs — the title tune and the smoldering "Maybe This Time" (which Kander and Ebb held back for her to do in the movie).

"That's what good teachers will do," Williams remarked, giving credit where credit is due. "I've had a lot of learning to do, yeah. And tons of vocal work. When we started rehearsing, I couldn't make it to the end of 'Cabaret,' and now... '

 Continued...