“Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum!”

10 Nov

Cabaret” the musical had its Broadway debut at the Broadhurst Theatre on November 20, 1966. The show opened to rave reviews and became such a hit that it inspired a 1972 film and countless productions across the globe. It won the 1966 Tony Award for Best Musical and Best Original Score and continues to win awards to this day. In 1998, the Broadway revival won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical and in 2007 the London revival of the show won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production. Certainly one can’t think of Liza Minelli without thinking of her Academy Award winning role as Sally Bowles and the 1968 London production helped launch the career of dame Judi Dench, in her role as Sally.

The story is set in Berlin in 1931, the late period of Weimar Germany, a period of flourishing artistic creativity, following Germany’s defeat in World War I in 1918 and preceding Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. During this time, Germany became a center of intellectual thought and artistic innovation as documented in the paintings of Otto Dix, the films of Fritz Lang, the music of Kurt Weil and the sexually-progressive cabaret culture that spawned Christopher Isherwood’s novel “Goodbye to Berlin” which would later be adapted into the musical “Cabaret.”

With today’s renewed interest in cabaret culture and the rise of the neo-cabaret movement, artists have once again looked to the Weimar period for inspiration. We hear shades of Weil in the music of the Dresden Dolls, we see shades of Lang in the imagery of the Steampunk movement and certainly the neo-burlesque scene draws heavily on Berlin’s decadent cabaret culture.

So, as we approach the 45th anniversary of the Broadway debut of “Cabaret” it’s only fitting that I highlight some productions of the play that we’re ticketing and an upcoming Seattle event that emulates the Weimar cabaret culture that inspired the musical. In Brookfield Connecticut, the folks at The Brookfield Theatre for the Arts are currently in the beginnings of a one-month run of “Cabaret” and you can pick up tickets right over here. Tonight is the opening night of KD College’s adaptation in Dallas, Texas (get your tickets here) and starting on January 19th, the Young Performers Theatre in San Francisco will begin their run of Cabaret which will take place in the intimate theatre at Fort Mason. If you’re in the Bay Area, you can pick up advanced tickets for that run right over here.

Here in Seattle, you can experience a modern take on Weimar cabaret with the Sound and Smoke Cabaret which promises a “return to the deviance and decadence of the Weimar Cabaret scene.” This is taking place in Seattle’s premier venue for top-notch cabaret and burlesque, the Can Can and will feature the finest in Seattle’s underground cabaret scene. Prepare to be transported back to 1920’s Berlin while sipping absinthe cocktails in this subterranean nightclub, located right underneath the historic Pike Place Market. Get your tickets for Sound and Smoke here before they’re all snatched up and take a trip back to Weimar.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Arts


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One response to ““Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum!”

  1. mammlet (@mammlet)

    November 13, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    A Review: Sad to say, the audience saw very little “cabaret” in the Sound & Smoke performance tonight at the Can Can in Seattle. The lackluster emcee stumbled over words read from what looked to be a handheld script, outlining a wikipedia-variety definition of the cabaret scene of interwar Germany. Jazz, the soundtrack of the avant-garde era was completely absent here and was not replaced with anything, modern or otherwise. The other performances were good, though, perhaps, not especially cabaret in style. I know this is a modern interpretation, but if it is then why narrate about the past. It could have just been an off night for the host or perhaps it was an unstudied understudy on the mic tonight. A show like this needs to be driven by an emcee that can not only entertain, but who can really bring the audience into the moment with exuberance and ease. This was not the case and the whole show suffered for it.


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