Book by Joe Masteroff. Based on I Am A Camera by John van Druten and Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Music by John Kander. The original Broadway production opened on 20 Novemer 1966 and was directed by Harold Prince, with choreography by **** *******. The production closed on ** **** ****, running for a total of 1 166 performances. A film was released in 1972.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
In the seedy Kit Kat Klub, in Berlin, an Emcee provocatively begins the show, and introduces the other people in the club, including the star attraction, an English woman named Sally Bowles (WILLKOMMEN). Sitting alone in a train carriage heading towards Berlin is Clifford Bradshaw, an American novelist, hoping to gain inspiration from the famous city, to write his new novel. Another man, Ernst Ludwig, from Berlin, enters the carriage. He and Cliff talk and Ernst has smuggles goods in one of Cliff’s briefcases when they cross the border. Ernst recommends a place for Cliff to stay in Berlin – the boarding house of Fraulein Schneider – and Cliff agrees to give Ernst English lessons. Cliff arrives at the boarding house and meets Schneider. Cliff openly states that he can afford very little, and they agree on a room at a price of fifty marks (SO WHAT?).
While Schneider shows Cliff the room, Fraulein Kost – the prostitute who lives across the hall – interrupts them. Schneider doesn’t want her to bother Cliff, although he doesn’t seem to mind. Herr Schultz, a graying fruit store owner, arrives to invite Schneider to celebrate New Year’s Eve, displaying a certain old world charm in his courtship of the lady. They leave Cliff alone to work on his novel but, instead of working, he decides to go to the Kit Kat Klub, where Sally performs a number with the Kit Kat Girls. (DON’T TELL MAMA). After the song, Sally calls Cliff on a telephone at his table, and asks him to have a drink with her later. One of the Kit Kat Boys, Bobby, who Cliff had previously met in London, also calls him and invites him backstage (THE TELEPHONE SONG – deleted from the revival). Backstage, Max, the owner of the Kit Kat Klub meets with Sally in the dressing room and fires her. Cliff tells Sally about himself. She tells him to leave his number and leaves to go perform her final song at the Kit Kat Club (MEIN HERR). Meanwhile, Bobby and Victor come into the dressing room, where Cliff kisses Bobby.
Back in Cliff’s room, we see Ernst taking his first English lesson. He realises Cliff needs money and suggests that he supplements his income by making visits to Paris for him. Sally arrives and we find that she and Ernst are well acquainted. Sally pleads with Cliff to let her stay in his room, as she has been thrown out of her present room (PREFECTLY MARVELLOUS). Although Cliff protests, Sally manages to convince him that to let her move in and the Emcee comically considers the decadence of such relationships (TWO LADIES). In the hallway, Schneider confronts Kost about her illicit affairs, but is distracted when Schutlz arrives with a rare gift from his shop – a pineapple (IT COULDN’T PLEASE ME MORE). Elsewhere, the Emcee plays a recording of a child singing the patriotic and frightening anthem, TOMORROW BELONGS TO ME.
Some time later, Cliff is still enjoying his stay in Berlin. Sally announces that she has become pregnant. The father of the child is not known, but Cliff could be a possibility. For Cliff, this puts a new perspective on their relationship. Sally wonders if it will work out (MAYBE THIS TIME). Cliff agrees with Ernst to bring back a parcel from Paris in a few days time, which he will be well paid for. Back at the Klub, the Emcee and the girls entertain the customers (MONEY – orginially SITTING PRETTY). Fraulein Kost is seen with three sailors coming out from her room. Though Fraulein Schneider would like to complain, she is herself caught coming out of her room with Herr Schultz. He tries to ease her embarassment by saying that they are to be MARRIED. The proposal becomes real, and she accepts.
An engagement party is planned to be held in Herr Schultz’s fruit shop. At the party, Sally presents the couple with a glass fruit bowl as a wedding gift. Ernst is also at the party. He is disgusted with the Jewish aspect of the party and creates a scene (MEESKITE – deleted from the revival). Cliff realises that the goods he is transporting from Paris are to fund the Nazi party. Fraulein Kost placates everyone, inviting Ernst to sing with her. The song is the Nazi anthem, to which eventually all the guests at the party (except the Jewish couple) find themselves singing (TOMORROW BELONGS TO ME – REPRISE).
Back at the Kit Kat Klub, the girls are form a kickline. One of the dancers is in fact the Emcee, who reveals his true identity to the amusement of the audience at the end of the song. Things are turning ugly for the newly engaged couple. A brick is thrown through the shop window, with the Nazi flag attached. (MARRIED – REPRISE). The Emcee appears with a gorilla, reinforcing the difficulties faced by the Jewish couple. (IF YOU COULD SEE HER).
Tensions grow between Cliff and Sally. Sally wants to continue with her work at the Klub, but Cliff wants her to come back to America with him and have the baby (WHY SHOULD I WAKE UP? – deleted in revival). Schneider comes to their room to return the wedding gift. She explains that she can see no future in her marriage with Schultz, and has broken off their engagement. Both Sally and Cliff attempt to reassure her that things will be alright, but she is adamant (WHAT WOULD YOU DO?). Sally is also torn between two worlds (I DON’T CARE MUCH), but eventually deicdes to have an abortion and return to the club (CABARET). Cliff leaves Berlin the same way he arrived – by train – as Germany takes the final steps towards the start of a war that will change the world (FINALE).
Purchases from Amazon.com
From left to right above: 1. Original Broadway Cast CD. 2. 1986 London Cast CD. 3. 1998 Broadway Revival CD. 4. 1999 Studio Cast CD. 5. Film Soundtrack.