Posted by GlindatheGood22 2012-12-02 12:52:37
I saw a production of Cabaret yesterday (at Purchase College) and I thoroughly enjoyed it until the title song, where it all came apart. Instead of the song being the apex of the show and showcasing Sally's breakdown it was a huge production number involving Sally dancing with all the Kit Kat girls, Sally smiling the whole time. The rest of the show fell completely flat afterward.
So, I guess this is my question - can the show work without the title song being about Sally's final crackup/why would anyone choose to stage it as a huge, distracting dance number?
Posted by justoldbill 2012-12-02 16:27:50
The song was tried as Sally's first number in the original production out of town in 1966, replacing "Don't Tell Momma". I think it was at the suggestion of Goddard Lieberson, who should have known better. Fortunately, everyone came to their senses very quickly.
Posted by MusicalBoy 2012-12-02 16:31:18
I don't imagine for a minute that it's a good idea or half as intelligent as I may be making it out to be, but perhaps the idea was to make Sally's decision to go all Doll's House and get an abortion a positive thing?
Posted by justoldbill 2012-12-02 16:37:52
No, I think it was just the idea of Columbia Records to make the obvious take-home tune more palatable within the context of the show and thus, more popular. Even with a show as iffy as it was out of town, it was clearly a bad idea.
Posted by GlindatheGood22 2012-12-02 16:47:03
The director of this production was a student, so I didn't expect it to be perfect. It just really angered me that he'd sell out the best moment in the show to make it a big (underwhelming) dance number. Absolutely no depth.
Posted by henrikegerman 2012-12-02 16:57:42
Isn't that more or less the way the number was usually done for decades with the much superior meltdown approach, an ironic and savvier take on the lyric, being the invention of Mendes and Richardson?
Posted by nasty_khakis 2012-12-02 17:08:41
You mean Mendes and Harrocks. She played the role in London before his production transferred to Broadway.
Some people think for the song "Cabaret" to work Sally has to go crazy eyed, cry, scream, and have a true breakdown. I've seen this work beautifully with various degrees of "crazy" from a still melancholy to maniacal screaming. One of my best friends HATES the movie and Liza's Sally simply because she smiles in it and insists it isn't a happy song. I disagree entirely, it IS a happy song about embracing life. If the director and Sally choose to play the opposite that's great, it can juxtapose the lyrics and be heart-breaking. I've also seen very upbeat Sally's sing it, which, when done correctly, can break your heart just as much knowing what she's just gone through. She's almost written it off and over Cliff and back to her hedonistic ways.
Granted, I haven't seen this production and have no idea if the "dance number" works, but I suspect it's just kickline/dance number with no thought behind it.
Posted by Mildred Plotka 2012-12-02 17:10:32
I think it should start as a club number and then turn into something entirely different. I agree, putting the Kit Kat girls there (and glossing over the subtext of the number) is a huge directorial mistake.
Posted by justoldbill 2012-12-02 17:11:05
The idea was Hal Prince's from the beginning, bringing Sally downstage to the stage's "limbo" area, which had previously been reserved for the surreal cabaret numbers. It didn't need to be overstated- everyone got it, like a bolt of lightning.
Posted by GlindatheGood22 2012-12-02 17:22:58
Jane Horrocks' Cabaret is frankly terrifying. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw-CdMSJNPM Too much. The idea of a breakdown is there, but it was toned down a lot by the time they got to Broadway.
In this production I saw yesterday, she started out with the Cabaret girls, then they got off the stage, then they came back. She also laid down on a table and mimed being a corpse when she sang about Elsie.
Posted by nasty_khakis 2012-12-02 17:34:11
I've always found Harrocks to be wretchedly over the top the entire show. She seems to still be playing Little Voice and feels the need to just make funny voices and call them acting choices.
Posted by Musicaldudepeter 2012-12-02 17:34:48
^^ That's as bad as when some directors choose to stage a 'funeral' during Pore Jud is Daid with ensemble members as 'mourners,' or putting a 'beach' tableau behind Lovett during 'By the Sea'
Posted by justoldbill 2012-12-02 17:35:10
Oh, dear- another Sam Mendes in gestation.
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-12-02 17:38:35
Yeah I assumed that that was partly Marshall's job as co-director, but that may be unfair (he just seems to have a more showbizzy "Broadway" aesthethic than Mendes). I agree that Harrocks', while fascinating, seems too angry to me, but I do think a lot of that televised production probably played better on stage than on TV.
Henrik, I've seen a video of Prince's 1987 production (which I guess fits a slightly awkward realm of being both a reconstruction and a revisal, but I think is very strong--much stronger than reviewers at the time seemed to think). I can't speak for the original, but by that point the angry way of staging the song (angry, for lack of a better term) was definitely there, so it's not an invention of the Mendes/Marshall production. (I was actually a little surprised at how much of their production was essentially in Prince's production--it's too bad that Prince's staging has now gotten some sort of reputation for being too safe for the material--yes the gay aspects were thankfully brought out in his '87 staging, but otherwise I suspect much of it played the same in the 60s, and as brilliant as I found the Mendes/Marshall production, mostly, to be, I think it almost has earned more credit than it deserves.).
Posted by henrikegerman 2012-12-02 17:47:52
Thanks, both for the clarifications and the correction about Horrocks; I had forgotten that Mendes first did with her in London.
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-12-02 19:20:25
Don't feel bad, henrik. I had no idea Sallys were having breakdowns during the title number. I thought, per 1960s productions and the film, it was supposed to be an ironic juxtaposition with everything falling apart outside.
And Horrocks? Oy! Just perfect for those who enjoy a screaming dominatrix now and then. Or perhaps a musical version of METROPOLIS.
Posted by BroomstickBoy 2012-12-02 19:42:57
FYI - She has the abortion after the title song. In that moment, she decides to not change her ways and stay in Berlin.
While Horrocks was way over the top in her performance, I think she has the right voice for Sally, at least based on the Sally from the Berlin Stories. Girly and chirpy when she speaks, then that lowly cigarette-husk when she sings. Dull and lifeless, but also careless of other's perception.
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-12-02 19:50:45
Thanks for the FYI. Except, personally, I don't think Sally Bowles needs a 4.5 minute sprechtstimme to decide to have an abortion. She can make that decision as flippantly as she makes every other.
But I'm talking about a production I haven't seen, so I'll say I enjoyed AMERICAN BEAUTY and shut up now. Thanks again.