EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-Winning Director Sam Mendes Re-Enters the Dark and Intimate Kit Kat Klub With Broadway's Cabaret

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19 Mar 2014

Michelle Williams
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Mendes, who reunites with his collaborator Rob Marshall, also noted that he would only do Cabaret if he had a "Perfectly Marvelous" Sally Bowles. "I said to Todd, 'I will absolutely consider bringing it back again, with Alan, if we have a Sally Bowles who I think is worth doing it for, and there's a small list.' Luckily, one of them said yes! I'm not going to say anything too much — I don't want to jinx it — but I think she's absolutely magic."

Michelle Williams, a three-time Oscar nominee for "Brokeback Mountain," "Blue Valentine" and "My Week With Marilyn," will make her Broadway debut when she steps into the shoes of Sally, a coveted role within the staples of musical theatre and a part played by greats, including Liza Minnelli in the 1972 film and the late, Tony-winning Natasha Richardson in the 1998 revival. ("In my head, I couldn't put Sally down," Williams admitted in a Playbill magazine interview. "It was in the shower with me, it was in the car with me… Something about it really had its hooks in me from the get-go, and thinking about it, and working on it, and thinking about the songs and playing with them gave me joy. That's what I followed.")

As finishing touches were being added to the set at Studio 54, where cabaret tables and banquettes filled the orchestra, Mendes seemed eager to get his cast in front of an audience and re-open the iconic Kit Kat Klub. The production, he said, is even more stripped-down than before and features a new bunch of Kit Kat Boys and Girls, who give the piece its unique and edgy aesthetic. Alan Cumming remains — still discovering, exploring and keeping Cabaret crisp.

"I love his performance, and it was very moving the first time we ran 'Willkommen.' He comes walking on stage for the first time, and I got quite choked up. I thought, 'My God… 21 years ago, I was directing this performance, and there he is,' and it's just so alive and fresh still," said Mendes with a smile. "I'm very happy to be walking into the back of the Kit Kat Klub all over again."

(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

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Alan Cumming and Kristin Olness
Photo by Kevin Tachman

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