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

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25 Apr 2014

Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Playbill.com offers a behind-the-scenes look at opening night of the Broadway revival of Cabaret.

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"Willkommen." The greeting that begins the last show of the Broadway season comes out of the past like a hushed hiss, even more déjà vu since it comes from Alan Cumming, reprising his 1998 Tony-winning role of a seductive, serpentine emcee.

Yes, having taken the decade off, Cabaret has returned — and to the scene of its war crimes, Studio 54, where it moved four days after a crane crashed through the roof of the Kit Kat Klub (nee the Henry Miller Theatre, now the Stephen Sondheim) and continued for 2,377 performances over six and a half years. It's Roundabout's all-time topper — "by far," said company kingpin Todd Haimes, who's giving it another spin. It's so sold out that he extended the run — before a single critic had his say — through Jan. 4, 2015.

Cumming called creators and re-creators alike to the stage April 24 for a sentimental curtain call. Joe Masteroff, 94, who wrote the musical book from the stories of Christopher Isherwood and John Van Druten's I Am a Camera, and John Kander, 87, who wrote the music to the late Fred Ebb's lyrics, joined hands and bowed with the director and choreographer of the 1998 revival, Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall.

For Mendes and Marshall, Cabaret was their ticket to Hollywood, where they went on to direct Oscar-winning Best Pictures of the Year (1999's "American Beauty" for Mendes and 2002's "Chicago" for Marshall). Now they're knee-deep in James Bonds and Johnny Depps, but the show that got them there brought them back.

Having gotten it so sublimely right the first time, why would Marshall do it again? "Because I was asked. Because Todd wanted to do it again. Todd was really excited to bring it back — to this space especially because the space was created for it, and I think he just thought it was time to bring it to a new generation. Then, Alan wanted to do it. And Sam said he wanted to do it, and so I said, 'Okay, I'll come on board.'"

"It was very interesting, revisiting something from a long time ago. Looking at it with fresh eyes was fun for me, making adjustments and changes. I enjoyed that. I tailor-made everything for Michelle and then worked with Alan again. You know, Alan is amazing. He's doing even more in the show than he did originally."



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