Cabaret the Musical

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 22 September 2006, Opened 10 October 2006, Closed 21 June 2008 at the Lyric Theatre in London
Returned Previewed 4 October 2012, Opened 9 October 2012, Closed 19 January 2013 at the Savoy Theatre in London

The return of Rufus Norris' acclaimed revival of Kander and Ebb's musical Cabaret in London starring Will Young in his musical theatre debut as the enigmatic Emcee.

John Kander and Fred Ebb's legendary landmark musical Cabaret turns Weimar Berlin of 1931 into a dark and sexually charged haven of decadence where its extraordinary and morally ambiguous inhabitants are determined to keep up appearances as the real world - outside the comfortable sanctuary of the cabaret - prepares for the nightmarish chaos of war. It is here that Sally Bowles performs nightly at the infamous Kit Kat Klub in "a shimmering masterpiece of a show guaranteed night after night! It's divine decadence darling!"Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome, in cabaret, au cabaret, to cabaret!

Cabaret the Musical has book by Joe Matseroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, and is was based on John van Druten's play I Am A Camera which in turn took its inspiration from Christopher Isherwood's Berlin stories Goodbye to Berlin. Originally seen on Broadway in 1966 where it won eight Tony Awards including for Best Musical and Best Composer and Lyricist, Cabaret the Musical is best known for the 1972 film version which starred Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York and which won eight Oscars. This major London revival of Cabaret the Musical is directed by the award-winning director Rufus Norris with designs by Katrina Lindsay. The choreography is by the internationally renowned Javier De Frutos, who has won a South Bank Award for his work and created pieces for The Royal New Zealand Ballet and The Rambert Dance Company. Rufus Norris' production of Cabaret was originally seen in London's West End at the Lyric Theatre in 2006 where it run for 21 months. Kander and Ebb's West End credits include the musicals Kiss of the Spider Woman and Chicago.

Please Note: This show contains both male and female full frontal nudity and so in not appropriate for children.

"Cabaret does work as a good-night-out musical in that some of John Kander and Fred Ebb's big numbers play on in the head long after the curtain has come down. This production is far, far more than the sum of its tunes... [it] is a compelling production that works on every level." The Sunday Telegraph (2006)

"A stage set of heavy purple velvet and harsh spotlighting does a good job of suggesting a sleazy Berlin nightspot... Unfortunately... it's all so darned obvious and in your face... there is no erotic charge to this brazen style. A 21st-century audience is hardly prudish, and it isn't going to be shocked by this approach - just bored. Specifically, your imagination is bored: it hasn't anything left to do." The Sunday Times (2006)

"Cabaret, best known for the film version with Liza Minnelli, must be one of the most celebrated shows of all time. Its adult content - kinky sex, Nazis, abortion, alcoholism, persecution and a very unhappy ending for all concerned - is hardly the stuff of your average musical but that, combined with Kander and Ebb's unbeatable score, is its appeal. Director Rufus Norris celebrates Cabaret's 40th birthday with a revival which accentuates the darkest elements to spectacular effect. His best idea has been to involve the fruity, fearless choreographer Javier De Frutos. In the Kit Kat Club, the favourite dive in decadent Thirties Berlin, bare bottomed dancers go through their gender-bending dirty dancing routines. Anything goes as long as it's depraved but in the arresting final image, nakedness is used very differently. The club gives way to the yard of a concentration camp where the once-fit dancers are huddled in the freezing cold awaiting extermination.." The Mail on Sunday (2006)

Regarding the storyline in Cabaret, the director of this stage version, Rufus Norris says: "It's always been an unusual one. It doesn't have a straightforward girl-meets-boy love story, it doesn't have a happy ending. All the characters end up in some form of bitter compromise. The reason I wanted to do this show was not to make a light piece of work that would appeal to the masses - I hope it does appeal to the masses but not as a light piece of work. There is an audience out there for a serious piece of musical theatre and this is the show to do it with."

The fall of the German Empire resulted in the birth of the Weimar Republic - a democratic government that fostered liberalism and paved the way for a mini cultural revolution. Thus Berlin in the 1920s gained an 'anything goes' reputation. The cabaret was particularly renowned for its taboo breaking with risque songs that challenged traditional ideas of morality. Despite the liberal themes of the songs, however, some performers had an ambiguous relationship with their material, and it wasn't always clear whether they were seeking to celebrate or lampoon diversity. Much of the material was of the nudge-nudge-wink-wink variety, more sensationalist than truly transgressive, and a good percentage of the 'degeneracy' was staged for the voyeuristic tourists who visited in droves.

A seemingly detached stance is at the heart of Christopher Isherwood's 1939 short novel, Goodbye to Berlin, in which the narrator opens with the now-famous lines: "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to he developed, carefully printed, fixed." Of course, in reality Isherwood was no passive observer. The very act of selecting and recording these specific events meant he was taking a position, and the result was a nuanced novel that is now regarded as one of the most politically significant of the 20th century. Indeed, Time magazine included it in its recent list of the 100 greatest English-language novels written since 1923. The episodic nature of the material made Goodbye to Berlin perfect for a stage adaptation and in 1951 Isherwood's friend John Van Druten turned it into the play I Am A Camera. Streamlining the book to focus on a handful of characters, the play and its subsequent film version were a huge success and put Isherwood on the literary map. Hal Prince then took the material a step further when he collaborated with librettist Joe Masteroff and composing team John Kander and Fred Ebb to produce the first musical version. Cabaret the Musical opened on Broadway on 20 November 1966 and became one of the earliest major 'concept musicals'. It has since gained classic status and is regularly cited as one of the greatest musicals of all time.

Cabaret in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 4 October 2012, opened on 9 October 2012 and closes on 19 January 2013. This production was previously seen in London at the Lyric Theatre were it previewed from 22 September 2006, opened on 10 October 2006 and closed on 21 June 2008.