"Life is a Cabaret, New Chum!" Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams Become Fast Friends in Broadway's Cabaret

By Michael Gioia
24 Apr 2014

Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming
Photo by Joan Marcus

Tony winner Alan Cumming and Broadway newcomer Michelle Williams chum it up backstage at Studio 54, where the Broadway return of Cabaret opens April 24.

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"You're going to cook from here? Did you get it painted, too?" Michelle Williams asked Alan Cumming. It was the first time she visited her Cabaret co-star's dressing room since he renovated it for his run in the Broadway revival at Studio 54. It was also their first joint interview for print.

"I got it painted yellow, yeah. Yellow is my favorite color," Cumming replied as he toured Williams around his third-floor space, showing her a mini stovetop (where he says he'll make pre-show soup), a minibar (for post-show cocktails), and pictures from his 2012 photo exhibition, "Alan Cumming Snaps."



"That's a popular one," he said, pointing to a piece entitled "Lustrous Pinnacle," which captures a folded issue of the New York Times — Liz Taylor adorning the cover — on the floor of a bar. "It was the night after the day she died, and it was just lying there." He paused before moving on. "This is from Liza's birthday party." Referring to, who else, Liza Minnelli, who recently performed in concert with Cumming.

Williams gazes at his photo collection — a plate of soup, vegetables, and hummus in hand — as they break for dinner in between a rehearsal three days prior to their first performance. "Maybe you can give me some decorating ideas? I think it's too pink-y right now," she says, referring to her own dressing room. "What I really want to do with it is make it 'Sally's Dressing Room.' That's what I want to do."

Williams is making her Broadway debut as sultry nightclub singer Sally Bowles in Cabaret, which opened last month at the same venue in which it closed in 2004. Cumming also made his Broadway debut in the same Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall-helmed production 16 years ago.

"Last time, when I did it in New York, it was overwhelming," admitted Cumming, who won a Tony Award for his first turn as the Emcee, and explains that the timing "just felt right" to return to the Kit Kat Klub.

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