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Cabaret (1998 Version)

The scene is the Kit Kat Klub, a night club in Berlin, as the 1920s are drawing to a close. The Master of Ceremonies welcomes the audience to the show and assures them that, whatever their troubles, they will forget them at the Cabaret. The entire orchestra is onstage, and the actors play along with it when they are not part of the dialogue. Cliff, a young American writer, meets Ernst, a German who surprises Cliff by putting his briefcase among Cliff’s luggage at the German border.

Musical numbers include Willkommen, Cabaret, Mein Herr, Maybe This Time, The Money Song and Two Ladies.

When we revisit the Klub at the end, much is changed, and the show ends with a stark foreshadowing of things to come: The Emcee strips off his overcoat to reveal a concentration camp prisoner’s uniform marked with a yellow Star of David and a pink triangle, and the backdrop rises to reveal an electric barbed-wire fence.

** Restrictions apply on this title. Please contact our office for more information. **

  • Full Length Musical
  • Drama

  • Time Period: 1920s, 1930s
  • Target Audience: Adult
  • Set Requirements: Unit Set/Multiple Settings
  • Cautions: Mild Adult Themes

  • Performance Group:
  • Dinner Theatre, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups, College Theatre / Student
* * *  Restrictions apply on this title. Please contact our office for more information. * * *

"Welcome to the Cabaret" sings the Emcee of the Kit Kat Club through painted lips, as the people of Berlin 1929 join him. Three Broadway versions of this show (1967, 1987, 1998) follow the same story and share most songs. Musical numbers exclusively in the Original 1967 version include Meeskite and Why Should I Wake Up? Numbers only in the Revised 1987 version include I Don’t Care Much, Don’t Go and The Money Song. All three versions include Willkommen, Perfectly Marvelous, Tomorrow Belongs to Me, Cabaret, Don’t Tell Mama, It Couldn’t Please Me More and Two Ladies.

Heading for Berlin in a railway compartment is Clifford Bradshaw, a young impoverished American writer who has been roaming Europe in an increasingly frantic search for the inspiration for novel number two. He is joined by Ernst Ludwig, an attractive young Berliner who appears to be in the smuggling business. When Cliff inadvertently helps him, Ernst gratefully gives him the name of a likely rooming-house in Berlin.

It is Fraulein Schneider’s house. She rents Cliff a room for half its usual price. She shrugs her shoulders. She’s lived through so much -- nothing is that important (So What?)

Cliff takes out his typewriter. But it’s New Year’s Eve. Ernst has mentioned a cabaret called the Kit Kat Klub. At the moment it seems much more inviting than the typewriter.

The Kit Kat Klub is a cross-section of Berlin night-life: thronged with fat, middle-class Germans-prostitutes-homosexuals-the flotsam and jetsam of a doomed city.

As Cliff enters the Emcee introduces Sally Bowles, a young English girl. As Sally sings Don’t Tell Mama, it becomes apparent that her voice is not the main reason for her employment. Max, the club owner, keeps looking at her in a proprietary fashion. But Sally is looking at Cliff.

Sally arranges to meet Cliff. He invites her home, but she refuses-explaining that “Max is most terribly jealous.”

The next day Sally suddenly appears in Cliff’s room with her baggage. Max has thrown her out. Can she stay with Cliff? Cliff finally agrees (Perfectly Marvelous).

The Emcee and two frauleins indicate that everybody in Berlin lives with somebody (Two Ladies).

Fraulein Schneider is being courted by Herr Schultz, a widower who lives in her house. He is Jewish and the owner of a fruit shop, from which he brings her a costly pineapple (It Couldn’t Please Me More).

Months pass. Cliff is getting nowhere with his novel-but enjoying life with Sally (Why Should I Wake Up?). But Sally is pregnant. Cliff is upset -- then happy. Ernst arrives to offer him a job smuggling a briefcase into Germany. Needing the money, Cliff accepts.

Everyone in Berlin earns money in strange, illegal ways -- the Emcee announces (The Money Song).

Fraulein Kost, a prostitute, discovers that her landlady, Fraulein Schneider, is having an affair with Herr Schultz. Herr Schultz announces they are to be married in three weeks (Married). Sally arranges an engagement party at the fruit shop.

Cliff arrives at the party with the smuggled suitcase. He hesitantly gives it to Ernst, who wears a swastika arm-band. Herr Schultz, rather drunk, sings a Yiddish-type song (Meeskite). Ernst decides to leave, but Fraulein Kost lures him back by singing a Nazi song (Tomorrow Belongs to Me). When all the guests join in exultantly, the party suddenly turns sour.

The Emcee and Kit Kat Girls do a Rockette routine which turns into a goose-step.

Fraulein Schneider breaks her engagement to Herr Schultz. She is afraid the Nazis will come to power (What Would You Do?)

The Emcee echoes her predicament. He’s in love with a female gorilla (If You Could See Her).

Cliff decides to take Sally home to America. Berlin is not going to be any place to raise a family. But Sally refuses. She loves Berlin and her life there (Cabaret).

They have a savage argument. Sally disappears-returning the next day. She’s had an abortion. Heartbroken, Cliff prepares to leave alone-secretly hoping she will join him in Paris. But Sally informs him she’s always hated Paris. Cliff sadly closes the door behind him.

In the train Cliff begins to write about Sally and the people of Berlin as, in his memory, they surround the compartment -- singing, dancing, living on the toboggan that led to the Third Reich.

Premiere Production: This revival of Cabaret opened on Broadway at the Kit Kat Klub, March 19, 1998. It soon moved to Studio 54 and played for a total of 2,377 performances starring Alan Cumming as the Master of Ceremonies and Natasha Richardson as Sally Bowles.
  • Casting: 9M, 18F
  • Casting Attributes: Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle), Room for Extras, Ensemble cast, Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Casting Notes: The 1998 Broadway production had a cast of 16 performers, plus pre-recorded Boy Soprano voice. Some doubling was employed in the minor parts.

    CUSTOMS OFFICIAL (doubles as Herman, non-speaking; and Max, speaking)
    FRAULEIN KOST (doubles as Fritz, non-speaking)
    RUDY (a sailor, non-speaking; doubles as Hans, also non-speaking)
    MAX (doubles as Herman, non-speaking, and Customs Official, speaking)
    GORILLA (non-speaking, doubles as French, also non-speaking)
    BOY SOPRANO (pre-recorded, non-speaking)

    The Kit Kat Girls:
    ROSIE (non-speaking)
    LULU (non-speaking)
    FRENCHIE (non-speaking, doubles as Gorilla, also non-speaking)
    FRITZIE (non-speaking, doubles as Fraulein Kost, who speaks)

    The Kit Kat Boys
    HANS (non-speaking, doubles as Rudy, a sailor, also non-speaking)
    HERMAN (non-speaking, doubles as Customs Official and Max, both speaking)