When Chita Rivera steps solemnly to the edge of the stage in the opening scene of “The Visit,” she sweeps the audience with a gaze that could freeze over hell. Yet a quickening warmth spreads through the Lyceum Theater, where this macabre, long-gestating Kander and Ebb musical opened on Thursday night. The woman …
Archive for Kander and Ebb
The reviews for The Visit are in, and while the critics certainly admire legend Chita Rivera and the long journey this Kander and Ebb musical has taken to Broadway, there’s no denying it’s flawed. The musical tells of Claire Zachanassian’s return to her hometown, a dark and dingy European village, to inflict revenge on the man who shamed her decades before. 82-year-old Chita Rivera performs a nuanced and passionate Claire, singing with clarity and dancing with grace and emotion. The other strengths of the production lie in the creative design, particularly Scott Pask’s set design and Japhy Weideman’s lighting. The atmosphere of the production is rightly ominous and shadowy, complementing the dangerous themes. Where the musical struggles is with the blend of book and music – the story is predictable and the songs, at times, feel like pause buttons. Despite flaws, though, there’s something to be said for catching a Broadway legend in a musical she’s waited 14 years to bring to Broadway.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW
TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW
Claire Zachanassian (Rivera) fled her dreary European town a disgraced, ruined girl, and she returns to Brachen a vengeful billionairess, planning to exact revenge on Anton Schell (Rees), the man who wooed and wronged her. When the old lovers reunite, Schell learns that Claire has a prosthetic leg and an ivory …
NBC NEW YORK REVIEW
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW
A second-tier Kander and Ebb score is better than a lot of musical craftsmen’s best, which makes “The Visit” a welcome curiosity, even it’s sure to be a commercial challenge. Finally reaching Broadway after almost 15 years of false starts, the show arrives in a bewitchingly designed production from director John …
ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW
Trust a John Kander-Fred Ebb musical to make the sunny color of vitality and youth positively menacing. In the dark, thrilling show, “The Visit,” shoes, money and even tennis rackets turn yellow — a bad sign for one character whose life hangs in the balance. In the works since 2001, “The Visit” opened Thursday at …
Cabaret has opened in Studio 54, and while the decadent, pre-World War II, night club musical is enjoyed highly by all, most critics needed to pinch themselves to make sure they hadn’t traveled back in time to 1998. The Roundabout Theater Company production that won such praise the first time around is back and almost entirely unchanged — if you missed it in then, now is your chance to see what all the fuss is/was about! Alan Cumming returns to play the Emcee, a role for which he won a Tony in 1998, and his performance is every bit as delicious this go around. Other highlights include the awesome onstage band and the 360-degree design of the Kit Kat Klub setting. If you didn’t see this production over a decade ago, head to Studio 54. Even if you did see this production over a decade ago, head to Studio 54 — ten years is a long time and you could always use more Cabaret.
NEW YORK TIMES
“Hot diggity dachshund, it’s old home week on the campus at Weimar Berlin, otherwise known as the Kit Kat Klub. And if we take off our glasses and squint, we can pretend that life is just as divinely, dangerously decadent as it was when we were all 16 years younger. Why, here’s that adorably creepy M.C., a little softer around the jaw, maybe (aren’t we all?), but still such a cutup. Look at him pretending to have sex with the school slut. (Or one of them; there were so many.) And isn’t that Sally Bowles over there in the pink boa? Looking good, Sal; love the platinum bob. But why so uptight? Don’t forget what you always said: “Life is … .” Uh, what was it you said again? A little more than 16 years after it first opened, and only a decade after it closed, it feels as if the popular Roundabout Theater Company production of Cabaret never left Studio 54, where it reopened on Thursday night.”
TIME OUT NEW YORK
“Cabaret is on Broadway again: Willkommen home, you magnificent beast. Originally staged in 1966, then brought to a sordid cinematic life in Bob Fosse’s (heavily adapted) 1972 film, the Kander and Ebb classic was revived and reconfigured anew in Roundabout Theatre Company’s triumphant 1998 account. Now that version has returned with its original star: the supreme Alan Cumming as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent nightclub in Berlin’s Weimar period. Why so soon? A better question might be: Why not? This Cabaret is a superb production of one of the great Broadway musicals of all time—an exhilarating, harrowing masterpiece.”
NBC NEW YORK
“Theatergoers walking into Studio 54 for the now-opened revival of Cabaret might be struck with a case of déjà vu. That’s because the Roundabout Theatre Company has produced an exact restaging of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s 1998 Tony-winning production. From the Playbill cover design to the fringe on the lamps of the tables of the Kit Kat Klub, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a time machine. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a reason the ‘98 revival was such a big hit, after all. Mendes and Marshall had reimagined John Kander and Fred Ebb’s classic musical, stripping away any glitz and glamor leftover from the 1972 film. Together with book writer Joe Masteroff, they gave us a dark, gritty take on Cabaret that amped up the asexual undertones in John Van Druten’s original play and Christopher Isherwood’s stories, forcing us to see the material in a whole new light.”
“Alan Cumming must have sold his soul to the devil to acquire his divinely debauched persona as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub in Cabaret. It seemed nuts, but proved shrewd of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall to retool their dazzling 1998 revival of the Kander and Ebb masterpiece, fit Cumming with a new trenchcoat for his triumphant return, and bring the decadent netherworld of 1920s Berlin back to Studio 54, the revival’s ideal venue. Inspiration flagged, however, in casting Michelle Williams, so soft and vulnerable in My Week With Marilyn, as wild and reckless party girl Sally Bowles. Smoking is verboten at Studio 54. The wait staff is not as scantily clad as the louche boys and girls at the Kit Kat Klub. The patrons aren’t even doing lines on the tables. But other aspects of this infamous club’s setting — the glitzy design of the house, the cabaret seating and drinks service, and the superb audio system for the fantastic onstage band — contribute to the show’s illusion that going out clubbing can still mean living dangerously.”
“Barely sneaking in under the Tony Award nomination deadline this season is a dear old friend to Broadway, the decadent Cabaret. The only appropriate salutation is: willkommen. Not a revival so much as a revival of a revival, this Cabaret — again produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company — opened Thursday night, with only hours to spare before its eligibility expired. Whatever it’s called, it’s as thrilling as ever, a marvel of staging that hasn’t lost its punch. If it looks a lot like the version that ran from 1998-2004, that’s understandable: Alan Cumming is back in his Tony Award-winning role as Emcee and director Sam Mendes and co-director and choreographer Rob Marshall are again pulling the strings on this show about life in pre-World War II Berlin. Orchestrations and costumes — what little there are — also are the same.”
“Sometimes the melancholy metaphor that claims “You can’t go home again” comes to mind unexpectedly. I’m sorry to say it has too recently occurred to me. It happened at the Studio 54 revival of the 1998 Cabaret so beautifully engineered then by Sam Mendes, Rob Marshall and Cynthia Onrubia. That’s the one that introduced the extraordinary Alan Cumming (also currently Eli Gold on The Good Wife) to Broadway. Let me quickly specify that Cumming, repeating the role that brought him a Tony 16 years ago, is every juicy leer as good now as he was then in his role of the deliciously decadent compere at the Third Reich’s Kit Kat Klub in Berlin, where, we’re assured, life is beautiful and the girls are beautiful. A decade and a half later, he uses the intervening years to supply the slinky fellow with a hint of the weariness that descends after cajoling too many patrons to cheer up over too many cheerless nights.”
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In honor of the upcoming Oscars (and the incredible 8 awards this film won at the 1972 Academy Awards), comment with who you think most deserving of an Oscar for their work on the film. Bob Fosse? Liza Minnelli? Joel Grey? Michael York? The cinematography? The art directors? The makeup designers? Should it have beat out The Godfather for Best Picture?
Can’t wait to hear what you think.
Congratulations to Gaby, the winner of the 40th Anniversary Blu-Ray Version of Cabaret!
If you aren’t Gaby but still want a copy of the Blu-Ray, you can purchase it from Amazon now!
The winner was chosen at random from all comments using a random number generated by random.org on February 20th at 5 pm EST.
The Broadway Musical Home was furnished with a complementary copy of this Blu-Ray for this contest, but was not paid to endorse this product in any way.
The 1972 film version of Cabaret is now out in a new 40th anniversary Blu-Ray edition, and if you haven’t seen it in a while, it’s well worth revisiting.
As you may or may not remember, the movie version is quite different from the staged one. Many songs are cut or just played as instrumentals, and singing arises realistically — songs are performed onstage at the cabaret by Sally and the Emcee, with the action of the play grounded in unsung realism. Many of the subplots are missing and much of the original Isherwood tale is added back in, but Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey give wonderful performances in their roles under the expert direction of Bob Fosse. The movie won eight Oscars, especially impressive when considering it was nominated alongside another movie you’ve probably heard of – The Godfather.
The film quality isn’t too much better than the DVD version (and is exactly the same as the previously released Blu-Ray), but what the 40th Anniversary Blu-Ray does offer is an insanely large collection of extras, including a detailed (and wonderful) documentary about how the show changed musical theatre. Also included are ‘behind the scenes’ videos, oodles of interviews, and funny and touching stories from the actors and others involved with the film.
If it all just sounds too marvelous to miss, you can buy your own copy at Amazon for under $20, and starting tomorrow, we’ll be featuring a giveaway of the new Blu-Ray on the blog here — so be sure to come back and enter to win!
The Broadway Musical Home received a complementary copy of this Blu-Ray, but was not paid to endorse this product in any way.
Another Off-Broadway transfer, The Scottsboro Boys, has moved to Broadway (after a quick fix-up out of town). The show is stronger than ever and critics are raving about the choreography, score, story and the amazing turn by newcomer Joshua Henry. The Scottsboro Boys‘ minstrel show treatment of very dark subject matter has critics split – some find the pairing genius and while others find the minstrel-show set up lessens the impact or is just outright smug.
Here’s what the major publications thought:
New York Post
A boldly stylized, defiantly razzle-dazzle look at true events…The story has a resounding emotional charge, but we also clearly see the cruel, almost cartoonish absurdity of it all…As grim as its subject is, the show is vibrantly alive…On the surface, The Scottsboro Boys is a hard sell in a Times Square dominated by escapist fluff…Yet this is also a thrillingly inventive and entertaining night at the theater. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be moved. What could be more Broadway than that? Read the full review
Arguably the finest of last season’s new musicals when it appeared at the Vineyard in March…[it’s now] stronger, tighter and even more impactful…Director-choreographer Stroman, working on a far simpler scale than usual, delivers her most creative and effective work in years, and Kander’s music sounds great…Actors appear to be relatively cramped for space, resulting in a suitably claustrophobic feel and a jolt in voltage that helps account for the increased power of Scottsboro in its new home on Broadway. Read the full review
Nestled snugly into the Lyceum Theatre, whose musty period interior enhances the show in ways the rather antiseptic Vineyard Theatre never could, this look at a monstrous, racially motivated miscarriage of justice in the Depression-era South, staged in the form of a minstrel show, packs quite a punch. It’s a satisfying finale for the legendary songwriting team…Thanks to some small but smart focusing, clarifying, and tightening of the book and director-choreographer Susan Stroman’s exemplary staging, the show now makes it clear that its purpose is not to tell the personal stories of these men. The musical is about what happened to them, and how that changed America…Here’s to the creative team for insisting on delivering the show it wanted. The Scottsboro Boys sets a high bar for Broadway musicals this season. Read the full review
The New York Times
Mr. Kander and Mr. Ebb have written a zesty if not top-tier score, but the pleasures of a jaunty ragtime melody and a clever lyric are hard to savor when they are presented in such an unavoidably grim context…Although the show’s momentum is hampered by both its essential singularity of tone and the tortuous history of the court cases, the production remains dynamic, thanks in no small part to the dauntless energy of the terrific cast, all fine singers and dancers. But the musical never really resolves the tension between its impulse to entertain us with hoary jokes and quivering tambourines and the desire to render the harsh morals of its story with earnest insistence. Read the full review
Wall Street Journal
It is impossible not to be thrilled by the electrifying craftsmanship…The problem is that all this formidable talent has been enlisted in the service of a musical so smug that I could scarcely bear to sit and watch it…I suppose there are places in America where such a show might still jolt its viewers, but to see The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway is to witness a nightly act of collective self-congratulation in which the right-thinking members of the audience preen themselves complacently at the thought of their own enlightenment…A musical that slathers this terrible tale in a thick coat of musical-comedy frosting that has been spiked with cheap, elephantine irony. I can’t imagine a nastier-tasting recipe. Read the full review
Have you seen the show? What did you think?
John Cullum (Urinetown), Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple) and Colman Domingo (Passing Strange) will star in an invitation-only reading of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman (The Producers).
With music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman), a book by David Thompson, and musical direction is by David Loud, the musical “explores the famous Scottsboro case of the 1930’s — in which a group of young African American teenagers were unjustly accused of attacking two women — and their attempt to prove their innocence.”
Cullum, Dixon and Domingo lead a reading cast that also includes Josh Breckenridge, Jared Grimes, Malik Hammond, Jared Joseph, James Lane, JC Montgomery, Brenda Pressley, Christian White, and Dashaun Young.
The musical will be presented June 26th at 3PM at the Vineyard Theater.