The scene is a night club in Berlin, as the 1920’s 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. His songs provide wry commentary throughout the show. On the train to Berlin we find Cliff, a young American writer, and Ernst, a German who surprises Cliff by putting his briefcase among Cliff’s luggage at the German border. History is in the process of being made. Musical numbers include It Couldn’t Please Me More, Willkommen, Cabaret, Don’t Tell Mama and Two Ladies. We find Cliff on the train again, now leaving Berlin alone. He writes about Sally and the people of Berlin leading up to the Third Reich. It has been a tumultuous and heartbreaking era.
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 in 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.
Book by Joe Masteroff
Based on the play by John Van Druten and
Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Music by John Kander Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Broadway production directed by Harold Prince
Produced for the Broadway Stage by Harold Prince
Such credits to the authors for all purposes shall be in type size equal to or greater than that of any other credits except for that of the star(s) above the title. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.
The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:
is presented by arrangement with
MusicScope & Stage Musicals Ltd. of New York
Choose either Full Orchestration or Flexible Combo (Flexbo)
3 Violins I & II
1 Reed I: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Soprano Saxophone (and optional Eb Clarinet)
1 Reed II: Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone & Alto Saxophone (and optional Piccolo & Flute)
1 Reed III: Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone (and optional Oboe and English Horn)
1 Reed IV: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Baritone Saxophone (and optional Bassoon)
1 Trumpets I & II (1st doubles Flugelhorn)
1 Trombone I (Tenor with optional Baritone double)
1 Trombone II (Bass)
Military Field Drum
Hi – Hat
Large Chinese Gong
1 Accordion & Celeste
Piano (Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material)
1 Guitar & Banjo
Stage Band: (essential)
1 Tenor Saxophone
1 Drums (Trap Drum Set)
Orchestra parts have been cross-cued so that the Violins I-II, Viola & Cello parts can be eliminated from the instrumentation.
Flexbo (Flexible Combo) Instrumentation:
The Flexbo is the best solution, when you do not have full instrumentation, to take advantage of orchestral writing. The foundation for a Broadway orchestration is the standard rhythm section: bass, piano and drums. The remainder of the orchestra, the “melodic” instruments – woodwinds, brass and strings – provide richness, depth and tonal color. The number of performers required to play these parts may be as few as nine, but almost always are in the twenty to twenty-five range. The four flexbo parts contain the essential musical lines provided by the “melodic” instruments in a full Broadway orchestration. While the best results will be achieved by using all four Flexbo parts, the Flexbo parts are cued so that even fewer players can be used.
1 Part A: Trumpet
1 Part B: Alto Sax, Clarinet (optional Flute)
1 Part C: Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet
1 Part D: Trombone
1 Accordion (optional)
1 Guitar/Banjo (optional)
Piano (Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material)
Master of Ceremonies (EMCEE)
Kit Kat Girls:
CABARET played for 1165 performances on Broadway at the Broadhurst, Imperial and Broadway Theatres and for 336 performances in London at the Palace Theatre. It was revised for Broadway, first in 1987, when it played for 261 performances at the Imperial and Minskoff Theatres, and most recently in 1998 at Studio 54, where it played for 2,377 performances.
8 Tony Awards for Musical, Composer and Lyricist, Director, Choreographer, Scenic Design, Costume Design, Featured Actor and Featured Actress
The Outer Critics Circle Award for Production
The New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical
4 Tony Awards for Revival, Actor, Actress, and Featured Actor
3 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival, Actor and Actress
3 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Revival, Actor and Actress