PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Cabaret — Cumming & Going & Cumming Again

By Harry Haun
25 Apr 2014

Linda Emond and Danny Burstein
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The subplot love story between Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, her Jewish boarder who plies her with fresh fruit, is where the heart of the story is centrally located, and it inexplicably didn't make the cut for the movie, which focused on a bisexual love triangle. With those characters went some great songs.

Ron Rifkin won a long-overdue Tony playing Schultz in the 1998 revival; now, it's Danny Burstein's turn. Somehow, he keeps coming up with a new face for every new character. For this, he grew a particularly unprepossessing mustache and shaved his head back. Voila! Herr Schultz, a sweet-tempered, old-school nerd. "When you play that role, you feel this enormous responsibility," insisted the actor. "You're the only Jewish character in the play. In a way, you're representing the six million Jews who died. And I also feel the ghost of Jack Gilford with me. I hope he would have approved. I loved him so much."

Andrea Goss, a chorine who comes in petite, doubles as a Kit Kat Klub girl (Frenchie) and a gorilla (in the "If You Could See Her" number) when she doesn't have to go on for Sally Bowles. She said the gorilla is always played by a woman. (The viciously anti-Semitic tag-line for that song, by the way, was not used until the movie in 1973.)



Cabaret is generally regarded as Masteroff's masterpiece, but his heart goes out to the gentle She Loves Me, the Sheldon Harnick-Jerry Bock musicalization of "The Shop Around the Corner." "It's an orphan," he sighed. "Whenever it plays, it gets great reviews — and the audiences say, 'Yeah, it's cute.' They really do. It never does big business." Perhaps a definitive film version would remedy that — eh, Rob Marshall?

"This opening night was amazing to me," Masteroff admitted. "We all know opening nights can be very good, or they can be disappointing. With this one, the cast rose to the occasion. Even the audience was respectful. You know, opening night audiences can get carried away. It was the best I've ever seen, this production — a shame some of the critics weren't here tonight."

The movie version of Cabaret pursued other Berlin stories from Isherwood — and not especially to Masteroff's liking. "I liked parts of the movie. I thought the scenes in the Kit Kat Klub with Liza Minnelli were wonderful. That's an area [director] Bob Fosse really knows, but I thought toward the end it turned into nothing because there are really no Jews in it, except for a family you never saw, and you can't do a Holocaust movie without a few Jews around. I just thought the movie neglected that. Bob Fosse often said you couldn't do a serious musical in the movies, and so he avoided it, but on the stage you couldn't get away with that. You're doing a story about Germany right before Hitler. You can't just pretend it's not happening."

In attendance was Mrs. Burstein (the former Magnolia Hawks and Marian Paroo: soprano Rebecca Luker). "Just concert work" is what she's up to. First order of business is a little time-traveling with Howard McGillin May 11 (at 7 and 9:30) at 54 Below in a reprise of Time and Again, the Skip Kennon-Jack Viertel musical they world-premiered in 1996 at the Old Globe. Also singing along: Lewis Cleale, Mandy Gonzalez, Jessica Molaskey, William Parry, Maureen Silliman and KT Sullivan.

Hunk Heck said his Mrs. — Maggie Lacey, whom he met playing his wife in Horton Foote's The Orphans' Home Cycle — was otherwise engaged in The Figaro Plays: The Marriage of Figaro, which Stephen Wadsworth is directing at the McCarter Theatre.

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