A New CABARET For The Ages On Broadway — Review


Gayle Rankin| Photo: Marc Brenner

Kobi Kassal
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April 21, 2024 9:40 PM

When Rebecca Frecknall’s innovative revival of Cabaret opened on the West End in 2021, it was the talk of the town. Starring Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley, the team gutted the Playhouse Theatre and transformed the space into a breathtakingly stunning immersive venue, now in the round. I have since caught the production three times over in the UK, and while visually stunning, there always seemed to have been a spark lacking for me when I would venture back out onto the streets of London. 

It was only a matter of time for the starry revival to make its way over here to New York, and I am happy to report that this Cabaret, which opened tonight at the August Wilson Theatre, is a thrilling sight to behold. 

The celebrated American classic (by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Joe Masteroff) transports us back to 1930s Berlin during the rise of the Nazi Party. The seedy and glamorous Kit Kat Club is a place to leave your worries behind, to bask in the escapism of the looming fascist ideals right outside the club doors. Designer Tom Scott has radically transformed the Wilson into a glittering den of liberation, now equipped with three separate bars and plenty of hidden alcoves to explore. Audiences are encouraged to arrive approximately 75 minutes before curtain for a prologue experience (including a shot!!) consisting of a full company of dancers and musicians who set the mood for the night ahead. 

Eddie Redmayne | Photo: Marc Brenner

Redmayne returns as the Emcee after winning the Olivier for Best Actor for this role. His Emcee is a terrifying stirr that ranges from clownish physicality to tender comedy. His chilling transformation throughout the evening both underscores and exemplifies conformity, which Frecknall underpins throughout the show. 

Gayle Rankin’s Sally Bowles is astounding. Commanding the stage from her first entrance, she pours her soul into her somber yes forceful Sally and provides us with one of the most stunningly heartbreaking renditions of “Cabaret” ever seen. Rounding out a uniformly wonderful company is the legendy Bebe Neuwirth (astounding) as Fraulein Schneider, the delightful Ato Blankson-Wood as Clifford Bradshaw, and the always wonderful Steven Skybell as Herr Schultz.

Julia Cheng’s frenetic choreography has your eyes darting all over the space thanks to the nimble and entertaining ensemble of Kit Kat Boys and Girls including standouts such as MiMi Scardulla, Marty Lauter, and Gabi Campo. 

Where I’m fascinated is that spark the production seems to have found over here in the States. I can’t necessarily pinpoint what particlualy changed but the world Frecknall has created now works for me. The team has produced a stunning feat the likes of which Broadway has not experienced in a while. If London is any indication, we are in for a long healthy run with exciting new stars every few months, and I look forward to experiencing the wonderment of the Kit Kat Club again and again. 

Cabaret is now in performances at the August Wilson on West 52nd Street in New York City.  

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Kobi Kassal

Hailing from sunny South Florida, Kobi Kassal founded Theatrely (formerly Theatre Talk Boston) while attending Boston University. He is an avid theatre attender and can be found seeing a performance most nights of the week (in normal times!) He is interested in the cross section of theatre, popular culture, hospitality, and politics. He also loves a good bagel!

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