Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams in Cabaret

Cabaret is an iconic landmark show. The original broadway production debuted in 1966 at the Broadhurst Theatre and ran for 1,165 shows. Merely six years later, Liza Minnelli starred as Sally Bowles in the screen adaption, which would later become one of her most well known performances. When most people think of Cabaret, they think of the film that Liza starred in. But is this the most accurate depiction of this musical masterpiece?

Witnessing the 2014 broadway revival starring Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams was a truly memorable experience. Cumming embodies Emcee better than anyone. Not only did he win a Tony for playing the role, but he has played it a countless number of times in the 1993 London revival, the 1998 broadway revival (2,377 performance run) and the recent 2014 broadway revival. This man effortlessly does the role, yet at the same time, he brings such uniqueness and energy to each performance. The role of Emcee doesn't really require a beautiful singing voice or intense dance training, however, it is extremely hard to pull off. You either have the talent or you don't. Cumming has everything he needs to pull off the role.

My lovely Shirley Temple!
During the 1998 broadway revival, a number of performers played Emcee, including Neil Patrick Harris and John Stamos. Yet while watching their performance, I didn't believe it. I didn't feel anything. As much as you see Neil Patrick Harris in theatre culture nowadays, I don't think he belongs there. He doesn't posses any natural talent or passion. He doesn't bring anything new to the roles he plays and he always seems so smug about what he does. Joel Grey originated the role of Emcee and played it on and off for decades. I think he pulls the role off without the raunchiness and is flamboyant and hilarious in a much different way. While Grey and Cumming play Emcee differently, they both do brilliantly in their performances and entertain the audience with their talent and love for theatre. Emcee is such a complex character and you need much more than talent to play this role. Emcee is flamboyant yet dark character. A character of mystery and depth. A character of fluid sexuality and raunchiness. A character beyond words. I was so happy to see Cumming a few nights ago and was lucky enough to meet him after the show. Bravo.

Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming in Cabaret 
(Photo belongs to JustJared)
Sally Bowles was made popular by Liza Minnelli, but was also played by Susan Egan, Molly Ringwald, Brooke Shields, Lea Thompson, Judi Dench, Jill Haworth, and so much more. Each woman plays it differently, yet for some reason, Liza is still associated with the role. Vocally and theatrically, no one will ever beat Liza. She entertained us with her sparkle. Yet the more you study the script and the more you look into Cabaret, the more you realize the focal point of Cabaret isn't Sally Bowles and she really isn't supposed to be a phenomenal singer. Hm.

Michelle Williams portrayed Sally in the 2014 revival and I was excited yet scared to see it. As an actress, she is brilliant, and I knew she would be able to embody the graceful hot mess Sally is. Yet this was her broadway debut, so you never know what to expect. Well, she was amazing. Yes, even vocally. There were certain notes they changed because she couldn't hit them,

The realistic setting at Studio 54
but I'm okay with that. I don't see a broadway show to see someone hit a note. She portrayed the most emotion during 'Maybe This Time', which made me tear up a bit. Out of all the Sally Bowles, she invoked the most emotion in the audience. Her acting was superb and doesn't even compare to the other women who played Sally.

I do recommend seeing Cabaret if you get the chance. It runs until March 2015 at Roundabout Theatre. Emma Stone will be replacing Williams in November, and I do plan on seeing that. I have nothing but negative feelings about it, but hey, we'll see how it goes. The fact Cabaret takes place at Studio 54 makes you feel like you're at the actual cabaret. The dancers and the musicians are on stage warming up before the show starts, interacting with the audience. The circle tables, the low-lit lamps, the waiters and waitresses walking around with cocktails. It's an experience worth the money.

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