Cabaret, Musical by John Kander
“Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!” is how you will be greeted from the stage of the Vienna Volksoper as the legendary musical Cabaret kicks off. In a night of sensual performances, genuine human interaction, and a growing political and social catastrophe, the famous musical, whose 1972 movie adaptation turned Liza Minelli into an international star, finds its new live incarnation and reminds us that some issues and character flaws are so deeply ingrained in the human psyche that they are timeless. Take an endearing and thought-provoking trip to the 1930s with this classic stage work!
Behind Cabaret we find the musical talents of John Kander and the lyrical wit of Fred Ebb. The storyline follows the slow demise of the German Weimar Republic and the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, masterfully allegorised on the stage of low-brow Kit Kat Club in Berlin. An incisive Master of Ceremonies introduces one cabaret number after the other, each detailing the rising socio-political tensions with acerbic humour and mostly joyless laughter. As the performances at the Kit Kat get progressively anti-Semitic and radical, so does the atmosphere in Berlin and the rest of Germany shift towards the doctrine of National Socialism, with the tragic consequences we all know.
Against this colourful and menacing backdrop, Cabaret follows the budding love between American writer Cliff Bradshaw and British singer and dancer Sally Bowles. While evil slowly takes root all around them, the two seem naively oblivious to it and simply live their lives one day at a time. Politically incorrect friendships and romances around them dissolve, their Jewish and gay friends run into trouble, and violence becomes part of the everyday. The merry welcome opening tune takes on a sinister, march-like overtone.
Cabaret was premiered on Broadway, starting out at the Broadhurst Theater on 20 November 1966, and has enjoyed lasting interest and accolades. A critically acclaimed movie adaptation starring Liza Minelli, Michael York and Joel Grey was released in 1972. Cabaret now continues its reign on the stage of Volksoper Wien.