DAILY BRIEFINGThe Kit Kat Club
Sep. 10 - We saw Cabaret last night—a preview of a production at a 500-seat theatre just outside the city.
It was a strange production. All of the musical numbers from the American stage and film versions of the musical were included and were performed in English (with the usual bits of French and German thrown in). The dialogue was in Danish, though, and a number of new musical numbers were added—in Danish.
It's tough to follow a song when you only understand the pronouns, and it's tough to follow a musical with such a vareigated history: a short story called "Sally Bowles" in Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories became a John van Druten play called I Am a Camera which eventually became Bob Fosse's Cabaret.
Which version you see (or read) will determine whether Sally's lover is named Brian or Cliff, whether the subplot follows the affair between the landlady and a Jewish shopkeeper or one between Brian's (Cliff's) pupil and a Jewish heiress, whether Sally herself is American or British, and so on. About all you can take for granted are that the Nazis are evil bastards and Sally sings at the Kit Kat Klub.
Still, the Danish production seemed to focus on Sally's landlady, Frau Schneider, and her relationship with the Jewish shopkeeper, Herr Schultz. If I'd never heard of Cabaret before having seen this production of it, I'd describe it as "the dull story of the doomed love affair between an old landlady and a shopkeeper, set against the backdrop of prewar Berlin—with some extremely interesting subplots."
Anyway, I'm not a theatre critic and never will be (it's a vow you have to take at playwriting school). I'm just your friendly moronic blogger, so I can skip all the analytical crap and go right to the thing that freaked me out: "Tomorrow Belongs to Me."
You've probably seen the movie so you know it's a creepy enough song to begin with, in the context of the story. (As one of the guys I was with last night observed, though, "it's too bad it has the Nazi connotations, because it's a damn catchy song." This from someone whose earliest memory is the sight of a murdered Nazi collaborator lying on a Copenhagen street.) It's creepy for a lot of reasons, mainly because we all know what that optimistic German sense of national rebirth eventually led to—was already leading to in the troubled times during which the musical is set.
But it's especially creepy when in it's sung in German. I don't know why—I'm not even sure it's a German song; it may have been something Hal Prince scribbled out on the back of a cocktail napkin at some diner on 45th Street. But it raised the hairs on the back of my neck just the same to see and hear the cast of twelve or so, grotesque smiles veneered across their faces, belt out the final verse of that song in German.
Which is the kind of observation that makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing with this blog thing. Is that really supposed to be interesting? That I was freaked out because one verse of a song was sung in German—in a Danish version of an American musical based on a British play adapted from a short story about life in Berlin in the 1930s?
Excuse me while I rush to the solid ground of a regular briefing.
The Solid Ground of a Regular Briefing
On this date in 1419, supporters of the French Dolphin murdered John the Fearless. John's brothers, Thomas the Prudent and Henry the Wary, lived on into old age.
On September 10, 1623, a cargo load of lumber and fur became the first exports in history from North America to England. This ensured the commercial success of the new world, as Europe had long been paralyzed by a shortage of sticks and hair.
Today's birthdays include Ryan Phillippe (1975), Amy Irving (1953), Jose Feliciano (1945), Charles Kuralt (1934), Roger Maris (1934), and Arnold Palmer (1929).
It is Battle of St. George's Cay in Belize and Independence Day in Guinea Bissau.
© 2003, The Moron's Almanac