Transformation Tunesday: "Willkommen, Bienvenue..." From Joel To Alan

Last updated April 14th, 2020 by BroadwayBox Staff
Transformation Tunesday: "Willkommen, Bienvenue..." From Jo…

Photo by Joan Marcus

It's "Transformation Tunesday" here at BroadwayBox! We're going to explore the exciting transformations your favorite Broadway tunes have morphed into over the years with thanks to innovative Broadway revivals.

Let's travel to Berlin's Kit Kat Klub.

Transformation Tune: "Willkommen" from Cabaret, by John Kander and Fred Ebb

1966 - Original Broadway Production

With direction by the spectacular Harold Prince, Cabaret made its Broadway premiere at the Broadhurst Theatre in 1966. Joel Grey took center stage and his place in Broadway history as the Emcee.

The Kit Kat Klub girls comprised the "beautiful" orchestra while Grey even joined in on the musical proceedings. All 32 (!) of Cabaret’s original cast members were decked out in extraordinary, colorful and bedazzled costumes by design legend Patricia Zipprodt. The headpieces alone! Ron Field’s choreography elicited cheers before the song was even over.

1987 - Broadway Revival

As if no time has passed, Joel Grey returned to Broadway 21 years later in the role of the Emcee after having collected an Oscar, a Tony, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for his role on Broadway and the show's acclaimed film adaptation.

The choreography, direction and blush application remained the same at this production which played Broadway's Imperial Theatre.

1998 - Broadway Revival

"Cabaret, meet Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall. Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, meet Cabaret. And Alan Cumming."

The Emcee's famous tuxedo was replaced with a leather trench coat. Gone was the sequins, gone was the enormous cast. In its place was a stunning reinvention of a "willkommen" to the new Kit Kat Club - stark, mysterious and led by Alan Cumming, mesmerizing. With choreography by Rob Marshall, it introduced audiences to the seediness of this new Kit Kat Club.

In 2014, similarly to what Joel Grey did in 1987 - and also like zero time had passed - Alan Cumming made a dazzling return 16 years later in a Cabaret revival in one of the production's original homes, Studio 54, with the same creative team in place.

Extra Credit - 1998 - Kennedy Center Honors

Cabaret's musical writing team John Kander and Fred Ebb were awarded recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998. The recent revival ensemble of Chicago revival joined forces with Joel and Alan to perform one of Kander and Ebb's most famous opening numbers together.