Tony nominee Ato Blankson-Wood (Slave Play) has joined the cast of the upcoming Broadway revival of John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Joe Masteroff's Cabaret. Blankson-Wood will play Cliff opposite the previously announced Eddie Redmayne as The Emcee and Gayle Rankin as Sally Bowles. Further casting is to be announced.
The Olivier-winning revival will play the August Wilson Theatre, as previously announced, but now there are dates. Performances will begin April 1, 2024. Opening night will come in two parts: the gala opening night celebration is set for April 20, while the embargo on reviews will lift April 21.
“I am beyond excited to return to Broadway in Rebecca Frecknall's brilliant production of Cabaret," says Blankson-Wood in a statement. "I recognize the weight and responsibility of telling this particular story at this particular moment and am emboldened by the fact that I'll get to do it alongside Eddie Redmayne and Gayle Rankin, two actors whom I admire so deeply. Cliff, like me, is an artist attempting to create and make sense of the world against a backdrop of escalating violence and hatred, I look forward to learning what he has to teach me."
As in the production's West End run, the theatre will be transformed into an in-the-round Kit Kat Club, with ticket holders invited to arrive at a designated time before curtain to take in pre-show entertainment, drinks, and dining.
Directed by Rebecca Frecknall and choreographed by Julia Cheng, the production opened at London's Playhouse Theatre, newly re-christened The Kit Kat Club for the revival, in 2021 with Redmayne and Jessie Buckley starring. The revival went on to win seven 2022 Olivier Awards, the most of any production that season, including Best Musical Revival, and Best Actor and Actress in a Musical for Redmayne and Buckley.
Based on Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin and John Van Druten's dramatization of them, I Am a Camera, Cabaret is set in Weimar-era Berlin as American writer Clifford Bradshaw arrives to work on his novel and soak up the debaucherous nightlife. He meets English cabaret performer Sally Bowles and a complex relationship develops, all as the Nazis ascend to power and the spectre of World War II and all its horrors loom on the horizon.
The upcoming revival will be the musical's first new staging on the Main Stem since the 1998 revival, which was also a London transfer. That 1998 production was revived in 2014. Revivals of previous stagings are not uncommon for Cabaret.
The oft-produced work premiered in 1966 with Harold Prince at the helm and Joel Grey starring (and winning a Tony Award) as The Emcee. The original staging (with some revisions) was brought back to Broadway, with Grey reprising his performance, in a 1987 revival. The 1998 version of Cabaret, a more dramatic revision of the work, starred Alan Cumming as the Emcee—Cumming won the Tony for his performance and came back with the production when it was revived in 2014.
The musical was famously adapted for the big screen by director-choreographer Bob Fosse, with Liza Minnelli starring as Sally Bowles. The film version, considerably darker and seedier than Prince's staging, won eight Academy Awards and is considered by many one of the best films ever made. Revisions to the stage work since the 1972 film have largely transplanted the film's energy into the script—along with some of its new songs, including "Mein Herr" and "Maybe This Time."
The London run of Cabaret features set and costume design by Tom Scutt, lighting by Isabella Byrd, sound design by Nick Lidster, and musical direction by Jennifer Whyte. Scutt will recreate his work for the Broadway bow, with further members of the creative team to be announced.