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Cabaret at Studio 54

It's been about 8 months since I saw the current revival of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret at the Kit Kat Klub, so I thought it would be a good time to take a look to see how this sensational musical is holding up ... and to see the new digs at Studio 54.

Studio 54 is, of course, the infamous disco of the 1970's and you would wonder how they would transfer the space into an environmental theater for this musical. At a cost of 2 million dollars the show was moved from the original space on 44th street up the 10 blocks to 54th Street. On entering Studio 54, you notice on the left a large photo of Jennifer Jason Leigh with a quote from John Simon, "the best Sally Bowles yet ..." or something to that effect.

For those of you who saw the show on 44th Street, you know the sets well and the theater seating arrangement. Well, I have to tell you, it's even better at Studio 54! Everything is pretty much the same, the tables with the little lamps, the seating etc. ... just bigger.

The mezzanine, though, is different. The front part has pairs of leopard covered seats separated by a table-arm rest. The rear mezzanine has 8 rows of regular theater seating, all offering perfect sight lines.

The theater itself is gorgeous, as this was once a legitimate house before it was a disco. It's very, very ornate with its 1920's multi-colored bas reliefs on the walls and ceilings, and it's in wonderful condition. In short, a perfect setting for Cabaret.

The cast has had some changes of course, but Tony winners Alan Cumming and Ron Rifkin are still there as are many others including members of the chorus. Blair Brown is now Fraulein Schneider and Jennifer Jason Leigh is making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles.

What can you say about Alan Cumming? He's been with the show from the beginning and you would think he could walk his way through the performance in his sleep, maybe even perhaps be a little stale as many actors get by staying with a role too long. This is Alan's Broadway debut show for which he won the 1998 Best Actor in a Musical Tony. He comes across like it's opening night, so fresh, and so full of fun and spontaneity that he is a marvel to watch perform. He's very comfortable in the role and seems to be just having the time of his life. I don't know if it's the lighting or the performer, but you'll get a "full moon" in this production! There have been some very minor changes but nothing much different has changed in his performance, just that he's giving one tour de force turn.

Sally Bowles has no real talent. I mean, she can't act and she can't sing. With this in mind, Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the role perfectly. Perhaps John Simon is correct in his assessment.

If you haven't visited Cabaret since it moved to Studio 54, head on up to the box office. It's worth a repeat visit. On Wednesday matinees you may be able to catch a half-price ticket at the TKTS booth. I understand Alan just may extend to April and perhaps as far as June. (Another movie deal in the works? ;) His performance is not to be missed!

See you Sunday!

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