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Arts & Culture > "Cabaret"--a Broadway Touring Company Review

"Cabaret"--a Broadway Touring Company Review

I first ‘met’ Sally Bowles in 1948 when I was given a book of short stories called “Goodbye to Berlin” by Christopher Isherwood. In 1951 I saw her for the first time on the stage of the Empire theatre when Julie Harris, as Sally, starred in the play “I Am A Camera” based on the Isherwood stories.  It would be the first play that I would return to see multiple times and I would see everything that Julie Harris AKA Sally Bowles would appear in during her career. Four years later I saw her in the film version of the play.

In November, 1966, I went to see a preview of a new musical called “Cabaret”. Jill Hayworth was not the Sally Bowles I knew and Joel Grey, as the Emcee, became the focal point of the Berlin stories and it featured Lotte Lenya.

In 1972 I took a trip to Australia and it seemed every leg of that journey was showing the new movie musical “Cabaret” and, if I remember correctly, I saw it 7 different times. In this version we had a different Sally Bowles, in the person of Liza Minnelli, who certainly wasn’t the second rate singer/dancer/entertainer that Isherwood knew and wrote about.

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of “Cabaret” The Roundabout Theatre Company presented the national tour of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s Tony award winning production shown on Broadway in 1998 and then revived in 2014 which I saw at the Adrienne Arsht theatre April 12, 2016.

Now, 69 years later, I saw Sally Bowles once again last night as the tour came back to spend two weeks at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and is as relevant today as when I first saw “I Am A Camera”.

The role of Sally Bowles in the musical “Cabaret” is a difficult one for actresses. To start off with she has to be a first rate performer to appear as a third rate entertainer in a sleazy 1929 show bar in Berlin. She also has to get the audience on her side though she is basically a prostitute who will sell her body for a fur coat, a job or a place to stay.  She has to be brassy, the life of the party, in the numbers she does at the Kit Kat Club but still be vulnerable enough under her façade to have a naïve American writer fall in love with her and for her to think, if only for a moment, it might work. She wants to ignore the world around her and how it is intruding into her life in spite of the facts of what she is seeing.

Andrea Goss, as Sally Bowles, who has been touring with the show since the beginning, presented by Bank of America in the Broadway In Fort Lauderdale 2016-2017 series, delivers the goods whether singing showy numbers in the Kit Kat cabaret such as “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Mein Herr” or songs that reflect how she feels in “Maybe This Time” and the title tune “Cabaret” where she lets loose with how she sees life. There was a problem with her mike garbling up her talk.

In an equal demanding, and a more in your face performance, Randy Harrison as the Emcee is on stage most of the evening as either the focal point of numbers like the chilling “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” or the satirical “If You Could See Her” while breaking your heart with “I Don’t Care Much” or standing on the side as an observer. He brings a lot of sexuality to the show along with many laughs, even more so in both categories than last year. He definitely gives an R, if not bordering on an X, rating.

Quietly stealing the show are Fraulein Schneider, a landlady, Mary Gordon Murray, with a strong voice and Herr Schultz, Scott Robertson, as a Jewish fruit store owner, as the heartbreaking suitor. Their duets on “Married” and “It Couldn’t Please Me More” along with her solo on “What Would You Do” are the most moving moments in this musical.

The Kit Kat Cabaret Boys, Girls and Band, the latter numbering 20 including many of the former, bring a lot of sparkle, fun and sex to the production. As the American writer fighting his homosexuality, Benjamin Eakeley, Ernst Ludwig as a Nazi who tries to use the writer in his cause and Alison Ewing as a Nazi sympathizer who also happens to be a prostitute add to the time in history when many people had to make decisions as to where they would go in a world becoming more frightening and, in many ways, more than a cabaret than the Kit Kat Club offer strong support.

There were a few minor problems such as a very distracting, annoying use of a disco ball and a first act that dragged a bit but all in all with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb and direction by Rob Marshall and Sam Mendes this production shows why “Cabaret” has become a classic in the Broadway history of musicals.

“Cabaret” is playing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts January 10-22.

Tickets can be purchased at or 954-462-0222.


“Cabaret” runs 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.

posted on Jan 11, 2017 6:44 AM ()

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