Game Changers: The Broadway Musicals That Shaped the Art Form

By Ben Rimalower
29 Mar 2014

Cabaret (1966)

Once Oklahoma! had brought on an entire generation of "book musicals" where the songs advanced the plot, Cabaret was the first post-book musical, marking the beginning of the era of "concept musicals" built around a central metaphor. There were earlier examples, such as Threepenny Opera and Lady in the Dark, but Cabaret was the beginning of a new age when this became the dominant form on Broadway. Some of the songs in Cabaret are in the Hammerstein storytelling mold, but the numbers set in the Kit Kat Club are just performance pieces — or are they? These songs offer commentary in counterpoint to the action of Cabaret and amplify the impact of show's complicated, controversial themes.