Monday, November 26, 2012

Cabaret – Original Broadway Cast Recording

   Telling the story about romance between young writer and Sally Bowles, an American girl in Berlin in the beginning of nazi-regime has quite a long staging tradition. First was Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 short novel Goodbye to Berlin. The first stage production in 1951 was a play by John Van Druten I am a Camera in 1951. It was written on the basis of Christopher Isherwood’s story. Then in 1955 it was captured for the cinema after the script by John Collier and directed by Henry Cornelius. The plot was more complicated than in Van Druten’s play but still following The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood. Author of the stories was also one of main movie characters. Movie was received by critics rather coldly but many saw it as inspiring.
   The story by Joe Masteroff, with lyrics by Fred Ebb and music by John Kinder created musical called Cabaret. In 1966 it become the instant hit on Broadway reaching in next years the total number of 1165 performances. This cast won eight Tony Awards of 11 nominations in 1967. Two years later it was transferred to West End, where it runs to 336 performances. In 1972 musical Cabaret went to cinemas in movie version directed by Bob Fosse with Lisa Minelli, Michael York and Joel Grey. Fosse, Minelli and Grey won Academy Awards – the three of total ten nominees and eight Oscars won by the movie. Joel Grey has Tony for Broadway performance and Oscar for movie role of Master of Ceremonies. Success of the movie made possible the triumphant march of the musical through the world scenes.

Cabaret – Original Broadway Cast Recording (1966)

   An important role in promotion of the musical played the album with original cast recording published by Columbia Masterworks in mono (KOL 6640) and in stereo (KOS 3040). Original Broadway production gave twenty years-old Jill Haworth immediate position of a star. She played the role of Sally Bowles with great ease and imitating skills giving great acting opportunities for her partner Bert Canvoy who is playing an Englishman in Berlin. Most famous actress in this cast was Lotte Lenya, wife of legendary Kurt Weill, singer known for many songs defining the musical associations with pre-war Berlin. She played the role of Fräulein Schneider. But real revelation was Joel Grey, who connected professional acting with great personality perfectly fitting to the role of Master of Ceremonies, the host making the cabaret works.
   Great job made composer John Kander and arranger Dan Walker who made this orchestrations fitting to musical sensitivity of the 60’s and still mimic cabaret small orchestra with a little bit of jazzy taste. The Money Song is in its prior shape, with refrain sounding like diction exercise. Despite Joel Grey is great, this song was recomposed for movie version and in new shape became great hit. Imitating possibilities helped to create song Tomorrow Belongs to Me which is so close to German folk tunes, it’s hard to believe it was composed in 60’s. In movie this fragment was given the additional task, joint singing attracts new singers and develops into manifestation. From today some parts look like having too much orchestral power, but this is specific problem with strings in time this musical was created. When Jill Haworth sings title song Cabaret, the great hit of these years, it’s hard to believe how complete her identification with the 30’s style is.

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