Cabaret (Original 1967)

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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.

*Music samples courtesy of Jay Records, Alley Music Co. and Trio Music Co.

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Brief History
  • Welcome to the Cabaret sings the Emcee of the Kit Kat Club through painted lips, as the people of Berlin 1929 join him. Both versions of this show 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. Both versions include Willkommen, Perfectly Marvelous, Sitting Pretty, 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

  • Full Orchestration and FLEXBO Combo – CABARET (1967, Original)

    Full Orchestration:

    3 Violins I & II
    1 Viola
    1 Cello
    1 Bass

    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 Horn
    1 Trumpets I & II (1st doubles Flugelhorn)
    1 Trombone I (Tenor with optional Baritone double)
    1 Trombone II (Bass)

    1 Percussion:

    Timpani
    Bass Drum
    Snare Drum
    Tom Toms
    Bongos
    Military Field Drum
    Cymbals:
    Suspended
    Choke
    Hi – Hat
    Wood Blocks
    Cowbell

    Triangle
    Ratchet
    Bird Whistle
    Tambourine
    Large Chinese Gong
    Temple Blocks
    Castanets
    Xylophone
    Bells

    1 Accordion & Celeste

    Piano (Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material)

    1 Guitar & Banjo

    Stage Band: (essential)

    1 Tenor Saxophone
    1 Trombone
    1 Piano
    1 Drums (Trap Drum Set)
    NOTE:
    Orchestra parts have been cross-cued so that the Violins I-II, Viola & Cello parts can be eliminated from the instrumentation.

    FLEXBO Combo:

    The FLEXBO Combo 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 Bass
    1 Percussion
    1 Accordion (optional)
    1 Guitar/Banjo (optional)
    Piano (Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material)

    Stage Band:

    1 Percussion
    1 Piano

    CABARET (Revised 1987)
    Full Orchestration and FLEXBO Combo

    Full Orchestration:

    3 Violins I & II
    1 Viola
    1 Cello
    1 Bass

    1 Reed I: Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Eb Clarinet (or Bb Clarinet), Soprano Saxophone & Alto Saxophone.
    1 Reed II: Flute (or Clarinet), Piccolo (or Clarinet), Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone & Alto Saxophone.
    1 Reed III: Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone & Tenor Saxophone.
    1 Reed IV: Bassoon (or Bass Clarinet), Clarinet & Baritone Saxophone.
    1 Reed V: Oboe & English Horn.

    1 Horn
    1 Trumpet I & II (1st doubling Flugelhorn)
    1 Trombone I (Tenor, doubling Baritone or Euphonium)
    1 Trombone II (Bass)

    1 Percussion:
    Bass Drum, Snare Drum, 2 Tom-toms, Floor Tom, High Bongo, Hi-Hat, Suspended Cymbals (Small, Chinese, Top, Crash, Ride), Cow Bell, 2 Wood Blocks, 2 Temple Blocks, Timpani (2 drums), Bells, Xylophone, Triangle, Ratchet, Bird Whistle, Siren Whistle.
    1 Guitar-Banjo
    1 Synthesizer:
    Registrations for Accordion, Celeste, String Pad, Harp, Pipe Organ, Pedal Steel Guitar (with various pitch wheel settings) & optional Cash Register SFX.
    1 Piano

    Stage Band:

    1 Tenor Saxophone [cued in Reed III part]
    1 Trombone [cued in Trombone I part]
    1 Piano (doubling Accordion) [cued in Piano and Synthesizer parts, respectively]
    1 Percussion [cued in Percussion part]:
    Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Tom-tom, Hi-Hat, Suspended Cymbal, Cowbell, Wood Block

    FLEXBO Combo:

    The FLEXBO Combo 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 Flexbo A: Trumpet, doubling Flugelhorn.
    1 Flexbo B: Alto Saxophone, Clarinet & optional Flute
    1 Flexbo C: Tenor Saxophone & Clarinet.
    1 Flexbo D: Trombone with optional Bass trigger.

    1 Percussion:
    Bass Drum, Snare Drum, 2 Tom-toms, Floor Tom, High Bongo, Hi-Hat, Suspended Cymbals (Small, Chinese, Top, Crash, Ride), Cow Bell, 2 Wood Blocks, 2 Temple Blocks, Timpani (2 drums), Bells, Xylophone, Triangle, Ratchet, Bird Whistle, Siren Whistle.
    1 Guitar-Banjo (optional)
    1 Synthesizer (optional):
    Registrations for Accordion, Celeste, String Pad, Harp, Pipe Organ, Pedal Steel Guitar (with various pitch wheel settings) & optional Cash Register SFX.
    Piano (playing from the Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material)
    1 Bass

    No Stage Band parts are needed. All Stage Band music is included in the following parts:

    Stage Band Tenor Saxophone: Flexbo C [also cued in Flexbo B].
    Stage Band Trombone: Flexbo D [also cued in Flexbo A].
    Stage Band Piano (doubling Accordion): Piano Conductor’s Score [Accordion also cued in Synthesizer part].
    Stage Band Percussion: [cued in Percussion part].

  • 1       Piano Conductor’s Score
    1       Prompt Book
    5       Prompt Books for Principal Characters
    12     Dialogue Parts
    33     Chorus-Vocal Parts

  • 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.

    Awards (1967)

    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

    Awards (1998)

    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