Book by Joe Masteroff
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
adapted from The Voice of the Turtle, by John Van Druten, which was adapted from Berlin Stories, by Christopher Isherwood

INFO:

Opened at The Broadhurst Theatre    November 20, 1966    1,165 performances (Numerous revivals)
Original Director: Harold Prince
Original Choreographer: Ronald Fields
Original Producer: Harold Prince
Original Leads: M.C.: Joel Grey   Cliff: Bert Convy   Sally Bowles: Jill Haworth    Fraulein Schneider: Lotte Lenya    Herr Schultz: Jack Gilford
Cast Size: Male 4 Female  3   Ensemble: 6-10 men, 8-12 women    Total Cast Size: 20-30
Orchestra: 17 + 4 in the stage band. Can be done with 13 + 4, or 8 + 2, as versions are available for that size orchestration. Could be done with more minimal orchestration, but not very well.
Published Script: Random House
Production Rights: Tams Witmark
Recordings: Many, many. The original Broadway is very good.
Film: Bob Fosse directed the film in ’72, and it won 8 Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Actress (Liza Minelli), Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey). There were some song substitutions for the film, and the song “Money Makes The World Go Around” is quite good, some stage productions integrate it in.
Other shows by the authors: Masteroff: She Loves Me.    Kander & Ebb: Flora The Red Menace, Zorba, Chicago
Awards: 8 Tony Awards in its first production, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best featured Actor (Grey), Best Direction (Prince)

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:

Cabaret is a brilliant show, a sort of modern look at the times and music that Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht lived through. It was a startling breakthrough in the Musical Theater when it first appeared. It is harsh, sexual, almost amoral, and a brutal comment on Naziism and how it destroys lives. Few musicals have dared so much, and certainly not so well as Cabaret. This was a seminal show, a game-changer in many ways. However, if you produce it, don’t be too respectful or dry or homage-oriented in your approach. Make it live and sing anew, for your audience and time.

It will work best for companies with audiences who are not going to head for the doors at the sight of degenerate sluts and the like. It is a musical for serious-minded audiences, which is not to say it isn’t entertaining, it is, and extremely so. College and University audiences should support it, and it’s a good show for that age range to do. Stock, semi-pro and pro can certainly do this show if they can handle the rather large production. Dinner Theaters have used it often, but that will only work where the audience will support this sort of show.

Be Warned:

This is a tough-minded show about Germany as it fell into Nazi hands, both ideologically and literally. It shows Berlin as it degenerated, and though there is a great deal that entertains, this is not for every audience or company. Jr. Highs and the like should steer entirely clear. High Schools have done it, but not well, I think, and not without a lot of cuts around some of the more dicey material. Same thing would go for local Little Theaters and Dinner Theaters, which might also have problems with the sheer size of the show. It isn’t HUGE, but it’s big.

This show uses a bit of German. Someone will need to teach your cast how to pronounce all the words well and believably.

This is an oft-produced musical, so you may want to do some research to find out if it has been done recently in your area before selecting it.

THE STORY:

ACT ONE: The darkened stage at a decadent club in Berlin, the Kit Kat Klub. Suddenly a spotlight pick up a gruesomely smiling little man in white face with large, painted lips, in a sort of tux. This disturbing figure is our Master Of Ceremony (or Emcee). We are inside his club, and he starts his show with “Wilkommen,” because we speak many languages here in Berlin, in 1929. he’s aided by various women dancing, singing, playing in the band, and apparently each one available for a tryst after the show, if you have some money.

A train moves toward Berlin, carrying a young American writer, Cliff. He is awakened by Ernst Ludwig,. A German man who wishes to share the compartment. A German Officer boards and asks to see I.D. Ernst hides a bag from the officer, Cliff does not tell, and wins his friendship. Ernst says the bag has various baubles from Paris, more than are allowed in a Berlin caught in poverty and Depression. Cliff offers to show Cliff to a very cheap residence in Berlin.

Fraulein Schneider’s flat is the place. She is in her 60s, tough, a survivor, and after a talk with Cliff, rents him a room for just a bit less than she wanted. But she likes him well enough, “So What?” he meets Fraulein Kost, a hooker renting the room across the hall who seems to have an infinite number of “nephews” in the German navy. Herr Schultz, an elderly Jewish man with a fruit market, comes to woo Schneider.

The action moves back to the Kit Kat Klub. There, we see Sally Bowles sing and dance in her seductive manner, on stage. (“Don’t Tell Mama”) Customers use the phones at each table to meet, match and depart. (“Telephone Song”, a sort of comment on the Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht famous sung line from their opera, The Rise And Fall of the City of Mahogonny, “There is no telephone here.”) Sally meets Cliff, and is immediately taken by his beautifully spoken English, her native tongue.

Later, in Cliff’s room, Ernst complains that English is not as precise as German, receiving an English lesson from Cliff. Schneider ushers in Sally, there to see Cliff…and she has her bags. Schneider is not pleased until Sally pays her some money. Though it’s all unexpected, Sally moves in,. And she and Cliff think it’s “Perfectly Marvelous.”

At the Klub, the Emcee and “Two Ladies” comment on how delightful an arrangement open relationships can be, a symptom of Berlin’s degeneration and Cliff’s.

Kost and Schneider debate over Kost’s many sailors, but Schneider and Kost both agree that money has the last say, and rents must be paid. Herr Schultz comes wooing again, and brings a great treat, a pineapple. She is delighted, and the wooing goes well. (“It Couldn’t Please Me More”)

At the Klub, alone, the waiters, blonde-haired blue-eyed Aryans all, sing a hymn to Der Motherland, “Tomorrow Belongs To Me.” It acts as a harbinger, as the audience fully understands where this sentiment will lead, and soon.

In Cliff’s room, Sally has unpacked and her stuff overwhelms the room. Cliff feels that he’s sleepwalking through life, experiencing her, but asks “Why Should I Wake Up?” (Of course, the answer is the growing muscle of the Nazis in Berlin.) Sally lets Cliff know that she is pregnant with his child. He is stunned, and decides he needs to get a job. And she decides to return to the Klub, over Cliff’s objections. Ernst offers Cliff a job smuggling goods ion from Paris, and Cliff accepts without allowing Ernst to explain what it is he’ll be smuggling.

At the Klub, the Emcee sings “The Money Song”, the be-all and end-all of life in Germany at that time.

In the main room at Fraulein Schneider’s, Kost is with yet another sailor. And Schultz asks Schneider to marry him. They dream of being “Married.”

At Herr Schultz’s fruit shop, a celebration of the impending marriage starts. Even at the party, Kost has three of her many “relatives”, and Ernst retrieves a briefcase from Paris, from Cliff. Ernst rhapsodizes about Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, and how the Nazi Party will build a new Germany. Cliff believes Hitler is mad, and cannot understand Ernst’s enthusiasm. Ternsions start to build, and they ae made worse as the Jew in the room, Schultz, sings a Yiddish song to entertain his guests, “Meeskite.” In answer, the “pure” Germans present reprise “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” in militant, jubilant fashion. The world is about to change.

ACT TWO: Eight girls dance on the Kit Kat Klub stage…only one is the Emcee. They all goosestep off.

Fraulein Schneider admits to Schultz that, due to the display at the party, and the changing sentiments in Germany, she has doubts about marrying a Jew. She’s afraid if she does, the Nazis will take away her license to rent rooms. She asks her to wait, governments pass. Then a brick crashes through her window.

At the Klub, the Emcee dances with a gorilla, and insists that “If You Could See Her Through My Eyes”, she wouldn’t look Jewish at all.

In Cliff’s room, Cliff admits he is having trouble finding work. He refuses to help Ernst anymore, as he is working with the Nazis. Sally demands that the world have nothing to do with her or their life together, and Cliff can’t live blinded that way. She considers returning to the Klub, as they need money. Then, Fraulein Schneider returns to them the gift they gave her at the engagement party, letting them know that now, there is no engagement. Cliff begs her to reconsider, but she asks, if they were old, weak, in a world beyond their control, “What Would You Do?” Sally plans to return to the Klub to rehearse her numbers, though pregnant, but Cliff asks her to go to America with him. The party in Berlin is over. But she will not leave Berlin.

At the Klub, Cliff finds Sally. She lets him know she’s going to perform, and stay in Berlin. Cliff gets into a fight with Ernst, making it clear with his fist that he won’t run errands for Ernst or the Nazis, even as Sally starts to perform “Cabaret”.

Cliff packs up in his room. Schultz says goodbye, and Cliff tells him he and Sally are going to America. Sally enters, and alone with Cliff, lets him know she’s had an abortion, paid for with her fur coat. She leaves him, wishing him luck, and asks him to dedicate a book to her.

At the train station, Cliff is asked by an inspection officer if he will be returning to Berlin, and he makes it clear it’s not likely. He starts writing his book in his mind as he says goodbye to Berlin, and we see Sally on the Kit Kat Klub stage, singing “Cabaret.”

THE SONGS:

“Wilkommen”, “So What?”, “Don’t Tell Mama”, “Telephone Song”, “Perfectly Marvelous”, “Two Ladies”, “It Couldn’t Please Me More”, “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”, “Why Should I Wake Up”, “The Money Song” (sometimes replaced with “Money Makes The World Go Around”), “Married”, “Meeskite”, “If You Could See Her”, “What Would You Do”, “Cabaret”

Hits include “Wilkommen”, “Cabaret”, “Money Makes The World Go Around”, “Meeskite”

MY OPINIONS:

You can always elect to skip or ignore my opinions and rating.   Of course, if you do, we’ll see just who will come to the Cabaret…

This was one of the first show that woke me up in my youth, and pulled my interest and efforts toward the musical theater. It is an amazing show, filled with ideas given flesh, a great example of Harold Prince’s “concept musical.” The music is terrific and memorable, even if it is a fairly clever simplification and rip-off of what Kurt Weill was writing 40 years earlier. The lyrics are sharp, pungent, not as funny as they might be, perhaps, but strong. The book, adapted from numerous sources, is tight and reasonably well-developed, though the in-cabaret moments and numbers have more entertainment and commentary value then the “real life” story of Cliff and Sally.

This is one example of a musical where the play version is, I believe, better written than the film, though the film is fantastic. The film diverges from the play version and goes back to the source material for some of its characters and story. This seems to have been an attempt to solve the fact that the Cliff/Sally story lacks a certain punch, but it does not succeed any better than the play, in my opinion. And they replace the Fraulein Schneider/Herr Schultz story with a younger couple, no where near as effective. No one can replace Lotte Lenya as a performer in this sort of show, and she provided a historic link to the past as she was Kurt Weill’s wife. I don’t believe the film helped itself with this decision. Bottom line, the film and the play are quite different in many ways, and both offer interesting visions of this tale.

It is a powerhouse of a show, emotionally and intellectually driven. The song “Cabaret” is itself a towering, soaring, muscular number that has become a part of our musical language, and which demonstrates the power of the show. This is, dare I say it, an important show because of what it says as well as how it says it, and shares that lovely distinction with just a few other musicals such as Ragtime, Fiddler On The Roof, South Pacific, and Rent.

All the above taken into account, Cabaret is not for everyone. The subject matter and the way it is presented will limit who can and should do this show. But if you fit into the cans and shoulds, then you should. Few shows pack a bigger artistic and entertainment punch.

MY RATING: ** (An excellent show, well worth considering.)

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:

The music is fun, lively, heavily stylized for the period and place as a rule. Your Musical Director/pianist will need to be very comfortable with the styles involved. As to vocalizations, most of the leads need to sing well enough, but the acting comes first. The exceptions are Cliff and Sally, who really must sing well, and be strong actors.

Cliff – Lyric Baritone, full-voiced, romantic quality to the voice.

Sally – Mezzo-alto, electric, great belt, Broadway star-calibre performance skills.

Schneider – Alto, mature voice, more an actress than singer, but pitch should be good and clean as she has quite a few songs.

Schultz – Tenor, more an actor than a singer, but again, good pitch and comfortable execution of a song required.

Emcee – Tenor, with an unusual, even piercing quality. Must belt, be very charismatic, a Broadway-star kind of role.

Ernst – Doesn’t sing much. Focus on acting.

Kost – Doesn’t sing much. Focus on acting.

Kit Kat Girls – Must have a look, full-bodied, dangerous, even randy. Must sing, with a belt.

Waiters, party guests, others – Get strong singers who have the right look. They won’t have much acting to do. They may well have choreographic requirements, though.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:

There’s a lot of dance in Cabaret. The Kit Kat numbers all must be choreographed, and feel as if they belong on the stage in a club in a degenerate city, as well as subtly commenting on the main story. The include “Wilkommen”,“Don’t Tell Mama”, “Two Ladies”, “The Money Song” (sometimes replaced with “Money Makes The World Go Around”), “If You Could See Her”, and “Cabaret”.

You’ll want to give your choreographer dancers who look the part, and time to truly develop these numbers. The quality of the singing by the ensemble, outside of “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”, can be, dare I say it, mediocre. The dance cannot, nor can the look be wrong.

And one note – sure, you can look at Fosse and Field’s work in the original and in the film, but then you’re doing what everyone does with these numbers. Cabarets were big in Europe at that time, and there were many hundreds of popular numbers that came out of them. A little research might allow you to extend the dance vocabulary of the show beyond what was admittedly ground-breaking in 1966.

There are other numbers that will will require some choreography, including “Telephone Song”. “Perfectly Marvelous”, “It Couldn’t Please Me More”, and “Meeskite” should be staged to emphasize the character’s inner condition and conflict, and may need the touch of a choreographer, as well. “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”, “What Would You Do”, and the number I’d cut, “Why Should I Wake Up” should be handled by a director.

CASTING CONCERNS
Clifford Bradshaw – American, Late 20s, pleasant-looking, intelligent, reserved. You’ll need to cast an actor who can allow the story to happen to him, and so Cliff is often portrayed as a cipher of sorts, a hole into which the story falls. I think it would help if he was a bit more than this, perhaps a man running from a life that was too safe, too easy, looking for inspiration as a writer, as was more-or-less apparently true of Christopher Isherwood, the writer of the tale this musical is based on. This would provide him a bit more of an edge. What’s he running away from? Why should we care about him as an audience, when he scarcely seems to care about himself? These question need to be answered in developing Cliff, and I think casting an actor who can project “haunted” just a bit might help. By the way, though Cliff is really Christopher Isherwood, you’ll note the Broadway version made him an American, though Isherwood was British. If they can make that change, you could conceivably cast him as Black, or even Latino or Asian. That said, he must be able to pass around and through Berlin and Europe easily, freely, and that may not work. Over to you.

Sally Bowles – The famous role in the show, along with the Emcee, made forever famous by Liza Minelli in the movie version. Early 20s, pretty, sophisticated rather than child-like, exasperating, irresistible. British in the stage version, American in the film. I think she could be from anywhere English speaking. There is that about Sally that, in the end, in blind to reality, and suicidally irrational. One can only assume that, as the Nazis took power, she did very poorly indeed. She is essentially amoral, as can be seen by her choice to get an abortion so that she can continue to perform at the Klub, and how easily she moves in with Cliff, without even asking first. Actually, rather, she lives her life in accord with the standards and morals of the time and place, and becomes through the play a symbol of the degeneration of Berlin. We should fear for her at the end of the show, which means that some innate vulnerability, though buried and denied, would be a plus for the actress to have.

Fraulein Schneider – In her 60s, vital, tough, almost indestructible, a survivor, interested in everything, reasonably bright. Must be a believable German woman. The unforgettable Lotte Lenya played the role on Broadway in the original, and there has never been another like her. Edgy but likeable, funny even when grim, strong and even capable of power in expressing a role, and having at her disposal a significant emotional range from endearing embarrassment to unyielding surrender, this is a role that will require the finest actress of the type you can find. I’d worry more about this role than Cliff, for instance. A little star-quality would be good.

Herr Schultz – 50s-60s, German-Jewish, spry, adorable, a sense of humor, lovable. The utterly delightful and loveable Jack Gilford played the role on Broadway. Soft but firm, determined but sensitive, and undeniably but gently Jewish. We have to understand why Fraulein Schneider would risk everything for him, until it becomes clear that she will, in fact, lose everything.

Emcee – Must sing and dance extremely well, with overworked charisma. There needs to be something ghoulish, almost feral about the man. He is ever hidden behind his white make-up, and who the actual man may be remains an eternal mystery. Perhaps there is no one really there, and he is just the spirit of degeneracy of the times.

Ernst Ludwig – German, 30ish, friendly, likable on the surface. Underneath, an excitable, seething ideologue, who is determined to see his Germany in the ascendency again. Does not sing, get the right actor.

Fraulein Kost – A hooker of indeterminate age, perhaps just past her “prime” so that sailors are a bit hard to come by. (Though she seems to do well enough.) Heavily made up and dressed. Does not need to sing.

Kit Kat Girls – All about dance and a look, an attitude.

Waiters, Others – Get Germanic-looking cast members. Singing and dancing are priorities.

SETS:

The action all takes place in just a few locations. It starts on a train, ends in a railroad station. Fraulein Schneider’s main room, Cliff’s apartment for almost all the story elements, with the addition of Herr Schultz’s shop where the engagement party takes place. And finally, the Kit Kat Klub.

I’ve seen this show done with literal sets, and I think it can get clunky that way. Transitions from scene to scene need to be seamless, and in the writing, sometimes transitions begin before the previous scene ends. This requires as fluid an approach as possible.

One could approach the show using a unit approach, one set that can stand in for everything. And that “set” might be the club, perhaps with an open space or “dance floor,” where the other scenes can take place, with an elevated stage hovering over the “real life” action, where the Emcee and Girls can look down on “the world” and cavort. Ensemble and even leads could roll/carry/dance in various small set pieces to indicate location. No attempt would be made to create “real” settings. A few chairs could stand in for the train car. Perhaps a small table and a rolling bureau could be Schneider’s living room, a bed could be Cliff’s apartment. The bed might even be on the backside of Schneider’s bureau, so it just needs to be turned. This will keep costs down, and allow the show to flow from scene to scene. Each piece that you will use would then be important, and would need to really evoke the period and location. Many pieces could be somewhat distressed, as the nation was dead broke at that time. But people took pride in their houses and appearances, and did their best to keep up a good show, so you should show distressed objects carefully mended, perhaps. And for “Telephone Song,” just have the performers carry/dance on more tables and chairs to fill the dance floor, and place your action there.

There’s another approach. In spite of denials I’ve read, Cabaret does borrow from Bertolt Brecht’s ideas of Epic Theater, an approach that suggests the audience be constantly reminded that it’s a live show they’re watching, and not life. In doing things like lowering the lights down to where the audience can see the instruments, using obviously representational settings instead of literal ones, you fulfill Brecht’s plan to alienate the audience just a little emotionally, so that they will engage their intellect. There is more you can do along these lines, from Brecht’s toolbox. A Kit Kat Girl (Kitty?) could walk through at the start of each scene with a sign stating where the new scene takes place, almost like a gorgeous girl announces rounds in a boxing match today. Or you could use a huge screen at the back of the stage with multi-media representations of location, and even use it to show what’s happening outside the walls of the Klub, as the Nazi’s start to assume power. Or an actor could simply cross center, perhaps our Emcee, and announce each new scene loudly and clearly. Any of these approaches, or a combination perhaps, would be in the Brechtian line, and would help the audience understand the flow of action.

The original production places a huge mirror over the stage, so that the audience was often looking at themselves. Harold Prince did this to remind the audience that we are all responsible when a culture degrades, it’s our nation, our culture and this approach is a variation of what Brecht recommended. But I think a mirror continuously staring an audience in the face will make paying attention to the action difficult, and today our lives have too many distractions as it is. I’d go one of these other routes I’ve described.

If you go literal, you will probably have a large stage with wings and flies. I’d roll in the train and station, let the Klub take up the main part of the stage. If you can use a large carousel or lift, rotate or replace the Klub with Schneider’s place, and Cliff’s apartment. If not, you may need to use a drop, or a drape or fly in a faux set of walls to block off the back part of the stage and hide the Klub with the apartment house. I would not, however, bury the Klub stage somewhere in the distant back of your stage, as the opening and closing numbers take place there! If it can hover over the action, as I described earlier, it could even be placed at an interesting angle, rather than square to the audience.

COSTUMES:

The show is a period piece, there is no getting around this fact. Cliff, Fraulein Schneider, Herr Schultz, Sally in street clothes, Ernst in his well-made suits all must appear to belong to 1929. There are endless sites and books one might look at to get the feel for the period, and you will need to do that. Costumes are sometimes described in this script, and it’s worth a look. Schultz will need something minor to indicate his Judaism, perhaps a yamalka. Everyone is going broke, but everyone is doing whatever they can to hide that fact. Distressed costuming carefully “mended”, women with “stockings” drawn to their legs would be the way to go. Germany as a nation, as a result of the Potsdam Treaty that ended WW I, was starving at that time. Use that fact in your costuming. And get the shoes right.

The Kit Kat girls will need varying ridiculous, cheap-looking and over-produced costumes for their numbers. Even the four-member band of (supposedly) all women (or cross dressers) need to be costumed in trashy seductive period.

The Emcee is usually done in a period Tux of sorts, but a bit glitzy, trashy, overdone, perhaps even a little oversized for the man in the Charlie Chaplin school of costuming. But whatever you do cannot render this character likeable. Theatrical, sure. Likeable, no. And remember that he has a lot of singing and dancing to do in your costume.

And you’ll need a fairly believable gorilla costume that a big guy can dance in. Sorry, no way around it.

Finally, sleeve swastikas. For the waiters and others at the end of Act One, and even the Emcee at the start of Act II and from then on.

PROPS:

Hat and cane for the Emcee. Period suitcases for Cliff and Sally, and they should be worn. Instruments for the Kit Kat “stage band” if they aren’t really musicians. Period telephones for the tables in the Klub. Fruit for Herr Schultz, including a pineapple (that can be plastic so long as it looks real). Fruit for his shop. There are other props, some of which will be unique to your production. I would think getting the phones might be your hardest task.

LIGHTING:

This show rockets from mood to mood, location to location. If you’re presenting the story in a literal fashion, lighting for the “real” scenes will need to feel “real.” Cliff’s room will need to be lit so that a cheap lamp or two provides the light…and then artful theatrical lighting which allows that cheap lighting to have its own feel and existence, will need to actually light the action.

The Kit Kat Klub will generally focus on the stage. This needs to be lit as pure theater, but it should feel tawdry and cheap. Saturated colors from your gels will help this feel like a porn house, which the klub is, for that time. You’ll absolutely need a follow spot for your Emcee, and for Sally in “Don’t Tell Mama”, and especially “Cabaret.”

And you’ll need to do the stock musical comedy thing of isolating numbers through lighting that take place in the midst of scenes.

MAKE-UP:

Hair has to be right for the period. This one point could sink the look of your show.

Kit Kat girls should be over-made-up, trashy. Kost can be a bit too much lipstick and rouge, as she attempts to maintain a young look.

Cliff, Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz should be subtle, everyday make-up. They are everyday people caught up in a storm they may likely not survive.

Ernst might have pretentious eyeliner, a statement that he does not belong to the German establishment, but is a part of the protest that will become the Nazi regime. Perhaps some of the waiters could have the same, subtle signs of the fascism to come.

Sally is not political, anything but. She is a showgirl, and her “career” is everything to her. She should be made-up to accent her physical pluses, but a bit tasteless, a bit too much. On stage at the Klub, add to the “too much”. This is her idea of “art.”

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):

Director, Choreographer, Set Designer, Costume Designer, Lighting Designer, Sally, Fraulein Schneider, Herr Schultz, and to a lesser extent, Cliff.

MY THOUGHTS:

Cabaret is a fantastic show, beautifully constructed. It is professional, yet daring, thoughtful and wild. The show is innately highly theatrical, and that quality can (and I believe should) be enhanced and emphasized. I like the idea of taking Cabaret more into Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Theater paradigm. I believe it will fit well there, and become an even more interesting (and less expensive) show to do. If you’d like to read what Brecht said, look at his A Short Organum for the Theatre.

One thing about the problematic central character, and it isn’t Sally, it’s Cliff. He is generally authored as an observer, surprised as he is exposed to the degeneration of a once-great culture, and by Sally’s wanton ways. This really, truly does not work, especially as in his first scene he mentions that he has been a smuggle in the past. To smuggle anything out of or into a country, one must know the ways of the world. I would ride this little hint hard. I’d make Cliff far more comfortable and aware of degenerate life. It is the magnitude of degeneration in Berlin that would slowly dawn on him, and the harm it does to people he starts to care about, as well as Sally’s inability to disengage from it all, that gets to him ion the end. He discovers that he has limits, he can only accept so much of the dark side of life. So consider not portraying Cliff as quite so virginal as I have often seen him portrayed. He accepts Sally’s attentions readily enough, and does not immediately flee from the growing Nazi regime. It takes a while, he hits his limit. Provide him a capacity for darkness, then, and know what moments in the show pass beyond that capacity.

The show offers real challenges for an experienced director. This should not be your director’s first show, or even his third show. It’s a tough show to get right, and easy to get wrong. The original director, Harold Prince, is the most awarded person in terms of Tonys, of all time. He started out by producing shows like west Side Story, and later directed and developed all of Stephen Sondheim’s great shows of the 1970s. Enough said.