Returning to the Kit Kat Klub: For Set Designer Robert Brill, Cabaret Has an Encore

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26 Apr 2014

To recreate the rest of the set, Brill turned to his original drawings and documents of the production. But it wasn’t as easy summoning up blueprints with a few keystrokes on his laptop.

"That was a whole different time and place, right?," he said of 1998 — only 16 years ago, but, in digital years, the equivalent of a few generations. "We’re so much more electronic now. We’re so used to having things at our fingertips." Some of the documents, which were kept in Brill’s storage space in New York, were water-damaged. "We spent a lot of time trying to decide what was designed for Studio 54 and what was designed for the Henry Miller's."

Given a second chance, Brill decided to improve upon what he had accomplished a decade and a half ago.

"We’ve tried to faithfully recreate the audience experience," he said, "and we’ve even enhanced it." Painterly textures and levels of simulated distress were improved over 1998 standards. Also, there were practical concerns. "ADA compliance is now very key," said Brill, speaking of the Americans with Disabilities Act. "How do we allow for wheelchairs in the space? In a cabaret space, you have to look at each area and plan for that."

For the little glowing table lamps and their red lampshades, Brill was lucky enough to be able to turn the same vendors who created the originals.

The converted Studio 54


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