Show us how you're spending the day after Thanksgiving.
TKTS. All days in London start with a visit to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square so that I can figure out what I'm seeing.
Boot shopping! And a nice walk down Regent Street and Savile Row.
Milroy's for scotch.
Tokyo Diner for lunch. It was bloody freezing here this morning, so udon was the perfect thing.
Went into a couple of bookstores on Charing Cross Road. I even found my book on the shelves.
Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre. Goddammit, I have the most amazing love-hate relationship with this musical, and I can never resist it. I've seen the show in New York, in the old Studio 54 space, which is filled with so much history that it couldn't help to be an interesting evening. The NY production seated people at small tables, cabaret-style, which made you feel like you were part of the club. I saw it in San Francisco, in a show that was so breathtakingly brilliant that I left the theater in tears. And of course I've seen the changed-yet-brilliant Fosse movie many times.
And now I've seen it in London. In some ways, this is the edgiest production I've seen-- it was explicit in a way that caught even a jaded San Francisco sex club veteran off-guard. The first act ends with the always-chilling number Tomorrow Belongs to Me, but rather than filling the stage with nazis and sympathizers, it's done with the cabaret dancers dancing frantically in the background, fully naked. It's a stunning number, and yet a jarring one.
Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz were both utterly brilliant in their roles. The emcee, although an understudy, had just the right level of creepiness and panache to make the part work. Sally was far less sympathetic in this production than in others, and it sort of worked... I want to like Sally, though, and this time I just didn't.
She did, however, pull the closing number off brilliantly. In this production, the dancers again finish the show naked again, but this time they're huddled together against a black wall. As the emcee strips and joins them, there is a chilling hiss just before the stage goes black.
Audience member is a difficult role in this show. How do you play this incredibly difficult moment? Stunned silence is the easiest response, but yet you're torn by the cultural custom of applauding as the curtain comes down. Tears certainly wouldn't be out of place, but joyous celebration feels wrong. Finally, a few people begin to clap tentatively and then the rest of the audience, relieved that someone else has broken the silence, joins in with thunderous if slightly self-conscious applause.
I can never see this show without feeling punched in the gut, beaten up by the same Nazis who attacked Cliff in the show, and yet I also can't resist seeing it. I'm drawn to it like the overly-cliched moth to the flame. Seeing the show in Europe makes it even more poignant... you feel somehow more threatened.
Cabaret is the best piece of musical theater ever written... it's not even close.
Originally posted on patti.vox.com