As it was at the overture and shall be at the exit music, bliss without end. Amen.

Theatre Aficionado at Large

Tag: Cabaret

My Year in Show Music

Last year, I made the conscious decision to keep a log of the albums (cast recordings, movie musical soundtracks, solo albums, live concert recordings, etc) that I listened to in their entirety. I decided to do it again in 2016. Each recording is linked to its own page on (a site I highly recommend for serious collectors of theatre music). An asterisk indicates a recording I listened to for the first time).

1/2 – Bye Bye Birdie [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/2 – The Apple Tree [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/5 – Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 [Original Cast Recording]
1/7 – Ragtime [1996 Toronto Cast Recording]
1/8 – Marin Mazzie: Make Your Own Kind of Music [Live at 54 Below]
1/10 – Kean [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/19 – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown [Original London Cast Recording]*
1/20 – Hello, Dolly! [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/25 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame [2015 Studio Cast Recording]*
1/27 – Doctor Zhivago [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/28 – Plain and Fancy [Original London Cast Recording]*
1/29 – The Light in the Piazza [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
2/4 – Grease Live! [Television Cast Recording]*
2/4 – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown [Original London Cast Recording]
2/9 – The Golden Apple [First Full-Length Recording]
2/11 – The King and I [The 2015 Broadway Cast Recording]
2/14 – Robert and Elizabeth [Original London Cast Recording]
2/15 – Cats [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
2/18 – Cole: A Musical Tribute to Cole Porter [Studio Cast Recording]*
2/22 – Tony Yazbeck: The Floor Above Me*
2/23 – The Secret Garden [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
2/23 – The Secret Garden [Original Australian Cast Highlights]
2/23 – The Secret Garden [Original London Cast Recording]
2/27 – First Daughter Suite [Original Cast Recording]*
2/29 – Giant [Original Cast Recording]
3/14 – Regina [1958 NYCO Cast Recording]
3/15 – My Fair Lady [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
3/18 – Fiddler on the Roof [2016 Broadway Cast Recording]*
3/19 – Hamilton [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
3/20 – 110 in the Shade [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
3/23 – She Loves Me [Original London Cast Recording]
3/25 – Gigi [New Broadway Cast Recording]
3/26 – One Man, Two Guvnors [Original London Cast Recording]
3/28 – Mrs. Henderson Presents [Original London Cast Recording]*
3/30 – Kinky Boots [Original London Cast Recording]*
4/1 – The Bridges of Madison County [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
4/5 – The Light in the Piazza [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
4/11 – Eubie! [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
4/12 – Spamalot [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
4/12 – Mary Poppins [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
4/13 – It Shoulda Been You [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
4/24 – Carnival [Original London Cast Recording]
4/25 – When Everything Was Possible: A Concert with Comments*
4/27 – Carousel [1962 Studio Cast Recording]
4/28 – Gypsy [The 2015 London Cast Recording]
4/29 – Alfred Drake and Roberta Peters Sing the Popular Music of Leonard Bernstein
4/29 – Bright Star [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
5/3 – The Most Happy Fella [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/6 – Something Rotten [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
5/10 – Hamilton [Original Broadway Cast Recording – LP Edition]
5/11 – Paint Your Wagon [Encores! Cast Recording]*
5/12 – West Side Story [Original Broadway Cast Recording – LP Edition]
5/16 – Do I Hear a Waltz? [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/20 – The Saint of Bleecker Street [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/24 – Mame [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/25 – The Robber Bridegroom [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/26 – On Your Feet! [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
5/26 – She Loves Me [2016 Broadway Cast Recording]*
5/27 – Paint Your Wagon [Encores! Cast Recording]
6/1 – Waitress [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
6/1 – Call Me Madam [Original London Cast Recording]*
6/2 – Paint Your Wagon [Original London Cast Recording]
6/3 – Tuck Everlasting [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
6/3 – Songs from The Lion [Original Cast Recording]*
6/3 – Sara Bareilles: Songs from Waitress*
6/3 – She Loves Me [2016 Broadway Cast Recording]
6/3 – The Color Purple [New Broadway Cast Recording]*
6/4 – The Color Purple [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/4 – The Color Purple [New Broadway Cast Recording]
6/9 – On the Twentieth Century [New Broadway Cast Recording]
6/17 – Emily Skinner & Alice Ripley: Unattached [Live at Feinstein’s 54 Below]*
6/29 – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
7/7 – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown [Original London Cast Recording]
8/5 – Funny Girl [2016 London Cast Recording]*
8/15 – Patrice Munsel: Unpredictable*
8/21 – Darling of the Day [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/24 – Bright Star [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/25 – Wonderful Town [1958 Television Cast Recording]
8/26 – Barbra Streisand: Encore Movie Partners Sing Broadway*
8/28 – Rothschild & Sons [Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording]*
8/28 – The Rothschilds [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/29 – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers [2015 Studio Cast Recording]
9/1 – South Pacific [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
9/1 – Meet Marvelous Marilyn Maye
9/1 – Fiddler on the Roof [New London Cast Recording]*
9/2 – Show Boat [1988 Studio Cast Recording]
9/4 – The Wild Party [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/4 – The Wild Party [Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording]
9/7 – Liza Minnelli Live at the Olympia in Paris*
9/7 – The King and I [1997 London Studio Cast Recording]*
9/9 – The Robber Bridegroom [2016 Cast Recording]*
9/9 – The Robber Bridegroom [2016 Cast Recording]
9/9 – The Robber Bridegroom [2016 Cast Recording]
9/10 – Little Mary Sunshine [Original London Cast Recording]
9/13 – Sunset Boulevard [American Premiere Recording]
9/17 – Far From Heaven [Original Cast Recording]*
9/20 – The Robber Bridegroom [2016 Cast Recording]
9/21 – Disaster! [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
9/27 – State Fair [Original 1962 Motion Picture Soundtrack]
10/18 – The Apple Tree [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
10/26 – Simply Heavenly [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
10/27 – Sunday in the Park with George [2006 London Cast Recording]
10/28 – Bye Bye Birdie [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
10/28 – Bye Bye Birdie [Original London Cast Recording]
11/2 – The Color Purple [New Broadway Cast Recording]
11/4 – Kristin Chenoweth: The Art of Elegance*
11/11 – Hamilton [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
11/23 – Half a Sixpence [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
11/25 – Ragtime [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
11/27 – Half a Sixpence [The New 2016 London Cast Recording]*
12/2 – Carmen Cusack: If You Knew My Story [Live at 54 Below]*
12/2 – The Hamilton Mixtape*
12/2 – Hairspray: Live! [Original Television Soundtrack]*
12/16 – Falsettos [2016 Broadway Cast Recording]*
12/24 – She Loves Me [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
12/26 – Song of Norway [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]*
12/28 – Irene [1973 Broadway Cast Recording]
12/31 – Bright Star [Original Broadway Cast Recording]

Posted on December 31, 2016 at 7:15 pm.

My Year in Show Music

Last New Year’s Eve, while preparing my annual “Year of Living Cinematically” post, I sat typing with my recently-played iTunes playlist on shuffle. At some point during my transcription, I came to the realization that I’ve been less likely to listen to a full album since I started using an mp3 player. Oftentimes, I would pick a playlist and put it on shuffle (as I call it: my own private radio). For 2015, I made the conscious decision to keep a log of the albums (cast recordings, movie musical soundtracks, solo albums, live concert recordings, etc) that I listened to in their entirety. Each recording is linked to its own page on (a site I recommend for any serious collector of theatre music). An asterisk indicates a recording I listened to for the first time).

1/2: Beautiful [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/2: If/Then [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/3: Two on the Aisle [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/3: The Merry Widow [1958 Sadler’s Wells Opera Cast Recording]
1/7: Anya [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/9: Honeymoon in Vegas [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
1/9: Kiss Me, Kate [New Broadway Cast Recording]
1/10: Hairspray [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/13: Company [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/13: A Little Night Music [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/13: Pacific Overtures [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/13: Merrily We Roll Along [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
1/14: Kiss of the Spider Woman [Original London Cast Recording]
1/16: On the Town [1960 Studio Cast Recording]
1/21: The Merry Widow [1952 Studio Cast Recording]
1/26: The Merry Widow [1978 NYCO Cast Recording]*
2/8: The Bridges of Madison County [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
2/15: The Ethel Merman Disco Album*
2/21: Side Show [Original 2014 Broadway Cast Recording]*
3/2: The Sound of Music [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – 50th Anniversary]
3/9: The Merry Widow [1978 Studio Cast]*
3/14: On the Town [New Broadway Cast Recording]*
3/14: The King and I [Music Theater of Lincoln Center Cast Recording]
3/16: 1776 [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
3/22: Paint Your Wagon [Original London Cast Recording]
4/16: Gypsy [The 2015 London Cast Recording]*
4/25: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
4/26: Matilda [Original Stratford Cast Recording]
5/3: Gypsy [The 2015 London Cast Recording]
5/4: Zorba [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/11: Zorba [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/14: Barbara Cook: It’s Better With a Band
5/15: Gigi [New Broadway Cast Recording]*
5/19: On the Twentieth Century [New Broadway Cast Recording]*
5/19: Fun Home [Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording]
5/24: Marin Mazzie: Make Your Own Kind of Music [Live at 54 Below]*
5/24: The Last Ship [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
5/24: Mame [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/26: The Sound of Music [OMPS New 2-LP Edition]
5/27: An American in Paris [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
5/30: Street Scene [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
5/31: Laura Osnes: Dream a Little Dream [Live at the Cafe Carlyle]
5/31: Laura Osnes: If I Tell You [The Songs of Maury Yeston]*
5/31: Illya Darling [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/1: Hallelujah, Baby! [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/2: The King and I [The 2015 Broadway Cast Recording]*
6/2: The Golden Apple [First Full-Length Recording]*
6/3: The Golden Apple [First Full-Length Recording]
6/7: Judy Kuhn: Rodgers, Rodgers & Guettel*
6/9: The King and I [The 2015 Broadway Cast Recording]
6/10: The Scottsboro Boys [Original London Cast Recording]*
6/11: Me and Juliet [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/15: Hair [The New Broadway Cast Recording – LP Edition]
6/15: Marilyn Maye: The Happiest Sound in Town* [LP]
6/17: Rags [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/17: Ragtime [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/18: Fifty Million Frenchmen [Studio Cast Recording]*
6/18: High Spirits [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/18: High Society [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
6/19: The Boys from Syracuse [Encores! Cast Recording]
6/21: The King and I [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/21: West Side Story [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/21: The Most Happy Fella [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/22: John & Jen [2015 Off-Broadway Cast Recording]*
6/22: Grab Me a Gondola [Original London Cast Recording]*
6/26: Misia [Studio Cast Recording]*
6/26: Miss Liberty [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
6/26: Irma La Douce [Original London Cast Recording]
6/28: Barbra Streisand: The Second Barbra Streisand Album
6/28: Giant [Original Cast Recording]
6/29: Regina [1958 NYCO Cast Recording]
6/30: The Visit [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
6/30: Oh, What a Lovely War [Original London Cast Recording]*
7/2: The Visit [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
7/2: Little Shop of Horrors [Original Cast Recording]
7/9: The King and I [The 2015 Broadway Cast Recording]
7/11: The Visit [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
7/11: West Side Story [2013 San Francisco Symphony Cast Recording]
7/22: Porgy and Bess [Houston Grand Opera Cast Recording]
7/24: The King and I [The 2015 Broadway Cast Recording]
7/25: Gypsy [The 2015 London Cast Recording]
7/26: The Pajama Game [Original London Cast Recording]
7/28: Cabaret [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
7/29: La Cage Aux Folles [Original Australian Cast Recording]
7/30: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers [2015 London Cast Recording]*
7/30: Carousel [2015 Stratford Cast Recording]*
7/31: Doctor Zhivago [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
8/1: Dames at Sea [Original Cast Recording]
8/2: Nine [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/3: South Pacific [1967 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Cast Recording]
8/4: Mary Poppins [Original London Cast Recording]
8/5: Thoroughly Modern Millie [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/9: The Music Man [The New Broadway Cast Recording]
8/10: City of Angels [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/11: Bells Are Ringing [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/11: Bells Are Ringing [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]*
8/15: Sunday in the Park with George [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/16: The Bridges of Madison County [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
8/17: Robert and Elizabeth [Original London Cast Recording]
8/19: My Fair Lady [2001 London Cast Recording]
8/22: The King and I [1977 Broadway Revival Cast Recording]
8/24: State Fair [Original 1945 Motion Picture Soundtrack]
8/26: Bend It Like Beckham [Original London Cast Recording]*
8/31: Legally Blonde [Original London Cast Recording]*
9/3: The Baker’s Wife [Original Cast Recording]
9/4: The Sound of Music [Original London Cast Recording]
9/6: On the Town [New Broadway Cast Recording]
9/6: Cyrano [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/7: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes [Encores! Cast Recording]
9/9: Wonderful Town [1999 Studio Cast Recording]
9/10: The Girl in Pink Tights [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/11: Sweeney Todd [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/13: Baby [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/16: Prettybelle [1981 Studio Cast Recording]
9/17: Titanic [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/19: The Happy Time [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/20: Lady, Be Good [Encores! Cast Recording]*
9/21: Hamilton [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
9/22: Hamilton [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/22: South Pacific [The New Broadway Cast Recording]
9/23: Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett: Julie and Carol Live at Carnegie Hall*
9/24: A Chorus Line [Original Broadway Cast Recording – 40th Anniversary Celebration]
9/25: Hamilton [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
9/25: Cry-Baby [Original Studio Cast Recording]*
10/1: Victor/Victoria [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
10/1: My Fair Lady [Original London Cast Recording]
10/1: Camelot [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
10/1: Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett: Julie and Carol Live at Lincoln Center*
10/2: Mary Poppins [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
10/2: A Man of No Importance [Original Cast Recording]
10/6: Hamilton [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
10/6: Pacific Overtures [The New Broadway Cast Recording]*
10/11: Pacific Overtures [English National Opera Cast Recording]*
10/13: Oklahoma! [1979 Broadway Revival Cast Recording]
10/16: Anyone Can Whistle [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
10/16: Mame [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
10/16: Dear World [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
10/16: Gypsy [Original London Cast Recording]
10/19: Robert and Elizabeth [Original London Cast Recording]
10/22: Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli Live at the London Palladium*
10/22: Porgy and Bess [1976 Studio Cast Recording]*
10/22: Miss Saigon [The 2014 London Cast Recording]*
10/28: Maggie May [Original London Cast Recording]*
10/28: Orpheus in the Underworld [1959 Sadler’s Wells Cast Recording]
10/29: Elf [Original London Cast Recording]*
11/13: Melissa Errico: What About Today? [Live at 54 Below]*
11/13: Steven Pasquale: Somethin’ Like Love*
11/18: Hamilton [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
11/28: Gypsy [2015 London Cast Recording]
12/2: The Bridges of Madison County [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
12/9: The Wiz Live! [Original Television Soundtrack]*
12/9: School of Rock [Original Broadway Cast Recording]*
12/14: Be More Chill [Original Cast Recording]*
12/24: Diana Ross Sings Songs from The Wiz*
12/24: She Loves Me [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
12/30: Beautiful [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
12/31: The Visit [Original Broadway Cast Recording]

Posted on December 31, 2015 at 3:08 pm.

Laura Benanti: ‘In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention’


I get the feeling that if you were to go back in time and tell 11 year old Laura Benanti that she would one day be one of Broadway’s most beloved stars, she would’ve thought you were out of your mind. At least, this is the impression I get when I hear Benanti talk about her Old Soul childhood on her essential new album In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention (Amazon, iTunes), a live recording of her cabaret at 54 Below released by Broadway Records.

In between her eclectic song choices, which range from Golden Age Broadway to Harry Chapin, Benanti interjects endearing, self-deprecating anecdotes about learning to sing entire Sondheim scores as a pre-pubescent, dressing up as Fosca from Passion for Halloween and crying on the school bus because none of her classmates knew who Rosemary Clooney was. (She pays homage – and bids adieu – to these formative years with an irresistible rendition of  “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore” from Lerner and Loewe’s Gigi). I sense that Benanti herself is still somewhat surprised that the awkward, unpopular girl with the frizzy hair and love of classic movies grew up to be a glamorous Tony-winning leading lady.

My first encounter with Benanti came with the 2007 City Center production of Gypsy. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect, as I was surprised by her casting. However, my jaw dropped in admiration as I watched her transform from awkward Louise into Gypsy Rose Lee during “The Strip.” I went back to see the show three times on Broadway (opening night, post-Tony performance and closing), and it became quite clear to me that Benanti was the heart and soul of that production. I doubt I will ever see a better Louise as long as I live.

With her shimmering soprano, Benanti is clearly at home with classic musical theatre repertoire (“I’m Old Fashioned,” “My Time of Day”), but she is also utterly compelling on contemporary and original material, including two of her own original songs. A tribute to 54th Street comes by way of the modified “On the Street Where I Lived” followed immediately by a mash-up of Ellie Goulding’s “Starry-Eyed” and Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.” She closes her set by revisiting “Unusual Way” from Nine, which she dedicates to Chita Rivera (who taught her how to take a bow) and offers “Model Behavior,” her dazzling showstopper from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, as an encore.

Benanti was assisted by Todd Almond, who served as the evening’s musical director, arranger, pianist, scene partner, back-up singer and accordionist. Almond is also a composer, and he joins Benanti on his “Tilly’s Aria/Frank and Tilly Make Love”, which is immediately followed by Benanti’s rendition of his “Spring is Coming.” His is a voice I want to (and expect will) hear more of in the near future. Also, his arrangements are superb; fitting the atmosphere of each song perfectly.

Some of the best moments on the album are the spontaneous, off-the-cuff interactions she has with the audience (most notably a chance encounter with a gynecologist). It’s clear that Benanti is much more interested in the human connection than with sticking to her script. The star is so at ease in the venue that her performance is all the more charming and humorous, making it one of the best of the Live at 54 Below albums so far.

While Benanti’s recent ventures into TV haven’t been successful (something she discusses on the album – though Go On definitely deserved a renewal), she always comes home to NY as she did with this show, this album and the upcoming Encores! production of The Most Happy Fella. I can’t wait until she is back on Broadway headlining a musical, but in the meantime I’ve got this delightful album to keep me company.

Posted on September 21, 2013 at 12:15 am.

‘Cabaret’ – A Tale of Two Sallys

Cabaret Minnelli

Last night I had the great fortune to attend TCM‘s 40th anniversary screening of the film version of Cabaret at the Ziegfeld Theatre on 54th Street. After waiting for what seemed an eternity outside in the frigid temperatures, we were among the last to be let into the theatre for the screening. Several hundred people behind us were sent away (with a Howard Keel DVD set as a sort of consolation prize).

I hadn’t intended on going. I do enjoy screenings, but I know how these TCM sponsored events, which are free, are a hot ticket and admittance isn’t guaranteed. I figured on sitting this one out. As it turned out, someone who was going asked me if I wanted to come. And in that instant I changed my mind. I figured, why not? I sat with Patty and Emily and my web designer Chris Van Patten. They had released some VIP seating and ushers told us to fill in, thus we found ourselves in the same row as Joel Grey and Bernadette Peters. (Other sightings at the event included Arlene Dahl, Phyllis Newman, Tony Danza and Alan Cumming).

Prior to the screening, there was a Q&A led by TCM host Robert Osborne, talking with the film’s stars Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, Marisa Berenson and Michael York, mostly rehashing the same stories they’ve shared on TV and radio this week. All this was to celebrate the (year-late) 40th anniversary of the film’s debut. Warner Bros. has undertaken a meticulous restoration and repair and such for a big Blu-ray release (it comes out February 5). The audience was in the mood to cheer, with most names in the opening credits receiving huge ovations (including the stars, Fosse, Kander and Ebb, and even stage director Harold Prince), as well as ample applause after most musical numbers.

This marked the first time in maybe ten years I had watched the film. It’s a fascinating study in adapting a stage musical to the screen, and probably the last truly great film musical to date. The credit is due mostly to director Bob Fosse, who took an unusual stage musical and turned it into an unusual dramatic film with songs. Fosse’s singular vision served to create something purely cinematic, using the medium to its best advantage and pushing boundaries with the film’s sexual and political content. (Props also to David Bretherton’s brilliant Oscar-winning film editing, which only heightens the experience). Major characters were dropped, and new ones were added.  The character songs were discarded, leaving only the diegetic cabaret songs (and adding a couple of others). The only song not sung in the Kit-Kat-Klub is “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” a beer garden waltz that builds into a chilling Nazi anthem – one of the most unsettling moments in the film.

Sally Bowles was meagerly talented and British in Christopher Isherwood’s original book, John Van Druten’s play I Am a Camera and the stage musical (a major reason Minnelli didn’t get the role on Broadway), but for the film she became an American. While the character makes much more sense as a British expatriate, Minnelli gives the performance of her career here. There is nothing she holds back, singing or acting-wise, in this portrait of the ultimate solipsist. Perhaps her being American only adds to how pathetic her delusions are. I think for those in the audience who might be only be familiar with Liza from the tabloid marriages and over the top interview persona, it’s eye-opening to recall how tremendous an actress she is. A captivating performance from beginning to end. Joel Grey recreated his Tony-winning role as the ultimate show-biz creep, the Emcee, to Oscar winning effect. In fact, the cast is universally good, and I think that York’s performance as bisexual British observer Brian is especially underrated.

Cabaret Dench

Meanwhile, I have also been paying attention to another Sally Bowles. On record, the film soundtrack, the original Broadway and 1998 Broadway revival cast recordings have always been available, but there is one essential recording of the score that has lingered out of print for two decades: the original London cast album. The 1968 West End production, which played for 336 performances at the Palace Theatre, was noted for its star, a young whipper-snapper by the name of Judi Dench. Thanks to Masterworks Broadway, this album is once again available and a must-hear.

The production also starred Oscar-winner (and future Tony winner) Lila Kedrova as Fraulein Schneider, Barry Dennen as the Emcee and Kevin Colson as Cliff. It’s a wonderful album, and if these performers are not as distinctive as their predecessors, they are all up to snuff.  The London album follows the Broadway album closely, but includes extra snippets of dialogue (especially in the finale), music and Fraulein Kost’s reprise of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.” The show’s entire finale is included, with Cliff reading the introduction to his book, followed by pieces of the character dialogue and songs and it is particularly devastating. This was also the first time that Fred Ebb’s biting original ending “She wouldn’t look Jewish at all” was restored to “If You Could See Her” (that line ruffled enough feathers on the way to opening night on Broadway that it was changed to “She isn’t a meeskite at all”).

As for Judi Dench, she’s utterly sensational and my favorite Sally Bowles on record. Though far better singers have played the part, she inhabits the character in a way that made me fully understand who she was for the first time. She is dripping with sensuality and cheek through “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Perfectly Marvelous” and her delivery of the “Cabaret” is one of the most gut-wrenching, visceral interpretations I’ve ever heard, with the song becoming its own devastating three act play. It’s hands down my favorite rendition of the song and worth the price of the entire album.

Marilyn Maye: Then & Now

Ever since seeing Marilyn Maye sing a knock-out “I’m Still Here” at the NY Pops Sondheim Bash, I’ve been unable to get the performer out of my mind. I’d heard of Ms. Maye, but I had never seen her or for that matter even heard her perform before that day. Well, I was floored. The iconic anthem from Follies proved the biggest showstopper of the night, given a fabulous rendition by the singer with an interesting new arrangement by Tedd Firth.

Though Marilyn never performed on Broadway, she is forever linked with our musical theatre. Her career as a singer made her a headliner in the top supper clubs and cabarets of the 1950s and 60s. When the supper club market declined, she took on many of the great musical theatre roles like Dolly and Mame in touring and stock productions. She was also the first to record many Broadway songs for RCA – even before the original cast – such as “Cabaret.” She was also a constant presence on TV, particularly on The Tonight Show where sang 76 times.

Here is Marilyn Maye in 1967 appearing on The Hollywood Palace singing “You’re Gonna Hear From Me” and “Cabaret.”

Cut to March 2010. Here is Marilyn singing “It’s Today” from Mame to promote her cabaret act. A lyric may go the wayside here or there, but she’s still got a powerful instrument and a sharp connection with the music and material. It’s a joy to watch her sing. She still performs regularly at the Metropolitan Room and will be appearing at the venue December 5, 6, 7.

Posted on November 29, 2010 at 11:06 pm.

Judi Dench – "Don’t Tell Mama"

When people think of Cabaret they don’t necessarily think of Dame Judi Dench. One might be more inclined to think Liza Minnelli, or perhaps Natasha Richardson. But Judi originated the part of Sally Bowles in the original London production in 1968. (And in my humble opinion, gives the definitive rendition of the title song on the cast album).

Here she is with the original company, I am not sure if this was taken live in performance, on a television special or an awards show, but here is “Don’t Tell Mama.” With that black wig, does anyone else think she looks a little like Vivien Leigh? (The sound goes on a couple of occasions, but that shouldn’t hinder the viewing pleasure).

Special thanks to my friend Russ Dembin for finding this clip.

Posted on November 17, 2008 at 1:13 am.
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Walking Among My Yesterdays


2/11 - The King and I

2/12 - Manon Lescaut (Met Opera)

2/14 - Cabin in the Sky (Encores!)

2/16 - Maria Stuarda (Met Opera)

2/19 - She Loves Me (first preview)

2/21 - Translations (Oxford Arts Space)

2/22 - The Secret Garden (MCP Concert)

2/28 - Anna Netrebko in Recital (Met Opera)

2/28 - Kate Baldwin & Friends: Welcome to My Party (Sheen Center)

3/9 - She Loves Me

3/11 - Noises Off

3/21 - Sondheimas (54 Below)

4/3 - 1776 (Encores!)

4/4 - The Light in the Piazza (10th Anniversary Reunion Concert)

4/25 - White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

4/28 - Dido and Aeneas (City Center)

5/15 - Do I Hear a Waltz? (City Center Encores!)

5/25 - The Robber Bridegroom

6/3 - The Color Purple

6/8 - Bright Star

6/13 - Lettice and Lovage (Acting Company Benefit)

6/26 - The King and I

7/23 - Shuffle Along

10/24 - Sunday in the Park with George (City Center Encores! Gala)

10/29 - Kelli O'Hara at Carnegie Hall

11/9 - Guillaume Tell (Met Opera)

11/23 - Half a Sixpence (West End)

11/24 - Ragtime (Charing Cross Theatre)

11/25 - She Loves Me (Menier Chocolate Factory)

11/28 - Ragtime (Charing Cross Theatre)

11/29 - She Loves Me (Menier Chocolate Factory)

12/12 - Kiss Me, Kate (Roundabout Gala)

12/14 - In Transit

Walking Among My Yesterdays


1/1 - Beautiful

1/8 - Honeymoon in Vegas

1/12 - A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration (92nd Street Y)

1/15 - On the Town

1/25 - Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Paper Mill Playhouse, opening night)

1/28 - The Merry Widow (Met Opera)

1/30 - The Elephant Man

2/6 - Lady, Be Good! (Encores!)

2/13 - The Screen (Taksu Theatre Company)

2/19 - You Can't Take It With You

2/27 - The Lion

3/1 - John and Jen

3/3 - Craig Ferguson: Hot & Grumpy Tour

3/8 - The Audience (opening night)

3/12 - The King and I (first preview)

3/17 - Hand to God

3/21 - Sondheimas (54 Below)

3/22 - Paint Your Wagon (Encores!)

3/25 - Cabaret

3/26 - The Visit (first preview)

4/1 - Wolf Hall, Part 1

4/1 - Wolf Hall, Part 2

4/8 - Gigi (opening night)

4/9 - Rhiannon Giddens at Town Hall

4/21 - Gypsy (West End)

4/22 - Wicked (West End)

4/22 - The Audience (West End)

4/23 - The Hard Problem (National Theatre)

4/24 - Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (West End)

4/25 - Buyer & Cellar (Menier Chocolate Factory)

4/25 - Matilda (West End)

4/27 - Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club)

4/28 - Follies (Royal Albert Hall)

4/28 - Gypsy (West End)

5/10 - Zorba (Encores!)

5/26 - The Visit

6/2 - On the Twentieth Century

6/9 - The King and I

6/14 - The Visit

7/2 - Little Shop of Horrors (Encores!)

9/21 - Hollywood Arms (Merkin Hall Reading)

10/4 - Dames at Sea

10/14 - King Charles III

10/16 - The Pirates of Penzance (Collegiate Chorale)

10/27 - Spring Awakening

11/2 - Kate Baldwin: Sing Pretty and Don't Fall Down (Keen Company Benefit)

11/17 - Songbird

11/25 - Gypsy (West End)

11/28 - Gypsy (West End, closing)

11/30 - The Winter's Tale (West End)

12/1 - Kinky Boots (West End)

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