Music By: John Kander
Lyrics By: Fred Ebb
Distributed by: Masterworks Broadway
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Cabaret is a musical based on a 1951 play by John Van Druten called I Am a Camera, adapted from a 1939 novel by Christopher Isherwood called Goodbye to Berlin. Cabaret, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, first hit Broadway in 1966 to rave reviews. Two years later, it was performed in Londonís West End and ran for 368 performances. In November 2012, Masterworks Broadway released the rare original London cast recording of Cabaret available in digital format.
Cabaret takes place in pre-World War II Berlin, Germany and centers around an American writer who has come to Germany for inspiration and his budding relationship with a performer at the local nightclub. When naÔve Cliff Bradshaw (Kevin Colson) arrives in Germany, he is directed by new acquaintance Ernst Ludwig (Richard Owens) toward a rooming house where he meets Fraulein Schneider (Lila Kedrova), a woman used to accepting less out of life and making do with what she can to survive. Once he is assured of room and board, Ernst then introduces him to the Kit Kat Klub, a place full of debauchery.
Itís a place where one can forget the stresses of the times. Itís also a place where he can find love in Sally Bowles (Judi Dench), a performer at the club. Unfortunately, the war is coming closer and things at the Kit Kat Klub are changing. There is also a change taking place with Cliffís friend Ernst, whose involvement in a political group makes for some real problems. As the Nazi presence becomes prudent staying in Berlin can be, but can he persuade Sally to leave with him?
While I remember commercials for the Broadway revivals of Cabaret (I may be dating myself here) and remember some bits and pieces of the main songs, I have never actually seen Cabaret and so I was happy to get the opportunity to review one the cast recording of one of the earlier performances of the musical. As I listened to the songs, I found them to be quite catchy, and often times funny . I was able to glean the story quite easily from the lyrics, which was nice since I knew nothing about the Cabaret storyline prior to listening to the album.
One sure sign of how much I enjoyed this album is that days later, I find myself still singing songs from it like Wilkommen!, Cabaret, So What?, Meeskite and Donít Tell Mama. The fact that I remember the lyrics so well days after listening to the album is testimony to the catchiness of the lyrics. Fans of Broadway musicals will be happy to get their hands on this rare cast recording of Cabaret.