Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Broadway: Eddie Redmayne, Bebe Neuwirth, Entire Cast Thrilling in Spectacular London Import of “Cabaret”


By 10am you will not be able to get a ticket for the six month run of “Cabaret” on Broadway.

The sensational revival, imported from London, features a thrilling and award winning performance from Eddie Redmayne as the emcee. His work transcends everything he’s done including his Oscar turn in “The Theory of Everything” and a previous Tony Award in the play, “Red.”

Londoners got to see this last year although US production adds Bebe Neuwirth in a show stopper of a role, and the equally good Steven Skybell. They, and Gayle Rankin as Sally Bowles, and Ato Blankson Wood, will all be Tony nominees.

Director Rebecca Frecknhall and the producers, working with Redmayne and the tech people, have scooped out the August Wilson Theater and turned into a real Kit Kat Club. New Yorkers may think they’re at the Tunnel or the Ritz from the 1980s. There are several different bars, and all kinds of performers slinking around before the show starts to give the feel of a decadent nightclub in Berlin as the Nazis took power.

This “Cabaret” is a totally immersive experience but can it also be very intimate and emotional. Of course, the Kander and Ebb score doesn’t hurt. The whole production results in one of the most satisfying nights of theater seen in a long, long time.

“Cabaret” takes place, as you know in pre-war Berlin. Jews think the Nazi’s are passing phase. But already there is trouble as an older couple — he’s Jewish. she’s not — are discouraged vigorously from marrying. The writing was on the wall if you wanted to see it. The story resonates today with antisemitism rising in subtle ways. Unlike the movie, the live stage musical of “Cabaret” is stark and foreboding.

Nothing prepares you for Redmayne’s performance. It’s one a kind, and had better be filmed before his time is up. While both Joel Grey and Alan Cumming are celebrated for playing the emcee in previous landmark productions, Redmayne turns the work inside out and stands it on his head. Fans who only know him from movies like “Fantastic Beasts” will not believe it’s the same person.

More tomorrow.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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