Ambassador Theatre Group and Underbelly Productions plan to transfer their hit West End revival of Cabaret to Broadway, two people familiar with the production said.
Eddie Redmayne has committed to reprise his performance as the louche Weimar-era nightclub emcee — a role made famous by Joel Grey in the 1966 Hal Prince-directed musical and in the 1972 Bob Fosse-helmed movie, and more recently by Alan Cumming in two Roundabout Theatre Co. revivals. Rebecca Frecknall is slated to direct the production, which is to begin previews in March 2024 ahead of an April opening.
Earlier this week, Redmayne saluted its composer, John Kander, and Grey by video at the Tony Awards. Reviewing the musical in the New York Times in December 2021, Matt Wolff called it “a nerve-shredding revival of Cabaret” that “pulls us into a hedonistic milieu, only to send us out nearly three hours later reminded of life’s horrors.” Set designer Tom Scutt has said that elements of his immersive Kit Kat Club should feel like a “dodgy Berlin rave.”
At the moment, Jujamcyn, the Broadway landlord that recently merged operations with U.K.-based ATG, has only one venue available: the August Wilson Theatre, where Funny Girl — produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, an ATG subsidiary — is scheduled to close on Sept. 3. Jujamcyn’s other theaters are supporting open-ended runs, including The Book of Mormon (the Eugene O’Neill Theatre) and Moulin Rouge! (the Al Hirschfeld). Likewise, ATG’s Lyric Theatre is home to the long-running Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. A revival of Merrily We Roll Along, also produced by Sonia Friedman, begins previews in September at ATG’s Hudson Theatre.
Broadway Journal hasn’t learned who’s playing Sally Bowles or whether the role has been cast. Jessie Buckley, who like Redmayne won an Olivier Award for her performance, isn’t involved in the transfer. Both stars were in the show for just four months.
Since Broadway reopened following the pandemic-induced shutdown, musical revivals have been relatively safe bets. This past season there were six, the most in more than a decade. Of the four that were commercially produced, Into the Woods was a sellout over the summer before dropping off in the fall. Parade has averaged solid sales of $1.1 million a week, and Sweeney Todd, a pricier production, has averaged $1.8 million. Funny Girl, a hit from last season thanks to the drawing power of Lea Michele, has returned 70 percent of its $15 million capitalization to investors and is on track to turn a profit.
One of the most commercially reliable titles in Broadway history, Cabaret originally ran three years. The smash 1998 Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall revival ran six years. It was the Roundabout’s longest-running show and revived successfully in 2014, starring Cumming and, successively, Michelle Williams, Emma Stone and Sienna Miller. There was also a short-lived 1987 revival produced by Barry and Fran Weissler, directed by Prince and starring Grey.
To the argument that New York has had enough Cabaret: A revival of Chicago, arguably a lesser Kander & (Fred) Ebb musical, has run nonstop since 1996. And Joe Masteroff’s Cabaret book depicting rising Nazism arguably has greater relevance today, with antisemitism on the resurgence worldwide. Perhaps partly in recognition of that, Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt and Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry’s Parade won major awards at the Tonys on Sunday.
Redmayne, 41, took home a Tony in 2010 for his Broadway debut, playing an assistant to Mark Rothko in John Logan’s Red. Five years later, he won an Academy Award portraying the physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He explained in a video promoting a new Cabaret cast recording that he performed the role of emcee at age 18 at the Edinburgh fringe festival, working with the two founders of Underbelly, Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, whose company presents shows and festivals around the world.
“About six, seven years ago, they came up to me, ‘Would you ever consider doing Cabaret again?” Redmayne says on the video. “It’s a part that has really stayed with me.”