If there's one thing theatre critics love unconditionally, it's "Cabaret".
Come to the cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret – this one has Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming in it. Williams has just made her Broadway debut and, well, Cabaret is still awesome – no surprises there. The revival of the beloved musical, a staple in every university theater group’s repertoire, opened at t at the newly transformed Kit Kat Klub at Studio 54 on Broadway (254 West 54th Street). By Friday morning, the critics should have already ripped into it. Surprisingly, most musical theatre buffs only had good things to say about the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival.
Reviewers were conflicted on Michelle Williams' Sally.
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: "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. Alan Cumming, who won a Tony as the nasty M.C. in 1998, is back, offering a slightly looser, older-but-wiser variation on the same performance...The most conspicuous difference is the bright blond actress portraying Sally...The promiscuous, hard-partying Sally is now embodied by a very brave Michelle Williams, who doesn't look all that happy to be there. I'm assuming that's more a matter of character interpretation than of personal discomfort, but it does put sort of a damper on the festivities...” So if you like your Sally Bowles unwaveringly upbeat, this adaptation might not be for you… then again the character is very world-weary, so the acting choice seems apt.
Alan Cumming, on the other hand, was an all-round hit.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter is duly impressed with Williams, as well as the rest of the production. He writes: “There's a riveting hard-soft dichotomy in Williams' performance. On one hand, she's the coke-snorting, armor-plated Sally who uses her frivolous disinterest in politics as an excuse to ignore the encroaching horror. On the other, she's the fragile creature who dreams of love and fulfillment while never quite convincing herself that those things are within reach...Mendes and Marshall have precision-tooled the production so that its hard, diamond edges glisten with sweat and sparkle.”
Variety’s Marylin Stacio lists Cumming’s Emcee as the biggest selling point, writing: “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.” However, Stacio’s review implies that the “soft and delicate” Michelle Williams has been miscast as the wild Fraulein Sally Bowls.
Cabaret will run through January 2015. Tickets are now on sale.