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Only ten days after it had opened, its original cast album was already in stores.

Frankly, the first-ever pressing of CABARET would have arrived even earlier had the musical not opened on a Sunday. Back in the ‘60s, casts routinely recorded their albums on the first Sunday after opening. In those days, Sunday matinees were rare, for most managements preferred not to have performances on what many considered The Lord’s Day.

So, the future Tony-winning classic that opened on November 20 didn’t get to record its album until the following Sunday, November 27. Had CABARET opened on, say, November 17 (and Thursday is a favorite day for shows to debut), devoted cast album purchasers wouldn’t have had to wait until November 30.

And it was a long wait for those who had already heard the word filtering back from Boston when the show was trying out there. Once it came to the Broadhurst, New York Times reviewer Walter Kerr agreed; he called CABARET “a stunning musical… brilliantly conceived” and told theatergoers that they “would be wise to go to it.”

They did, enough to make one of the most serious book musicals the 14th longest-running one in Broadway history.

Still, that an album recorded on Sunday, November 27, would be released on Wednesday, November 30, almost seems like an impossibility. In order for this remarkable three-day turnaround, record jackets had obviously been printed well in advance. Companies only go to that expense with shows that look as if they’ll be smash hits.

Four months later, CABARET won eight Tonys, including Best Musical. Ten months after that, it won the Grammy Award as Best Musical Theater Album. That it would be hard to beat was clear from the intoxicating vamp that led to The Emcee (sudden star Joel Grey) welcoming us with “Willkommen.”

In 1998, CABARET had a revisal that became legendary in a very short time. It won the Tony as Best Musical Revival. Alan Cumming proved that there was more than one way to play The Emcee. Natasha Richardson dazzled as the erratic singer and more erratic human being Sally Bowles. Ron Rifkin was tender as Herr Schultz, the Jewish grocery owner who didn’t quite see what was coming in Nazi Germany. All three won Tonys, too.

This revisal wound up running more than twice as long as the original: 2,377 performances to 1,165. It’s Broadway’s second-longest-running musical revival (behind the still-on-the-boards CHICAGO, whose score was also written by the CABARET team: John Kander and Fred Ebb).

That revival’s cast album, however, had to settle for a Grammy nomination as THE LION KING roared to victory. CABARET should have won, mostly because the 1998 recording is sui generis.

We’ll save you a trip to Google. Sui generis is the Latin term that essentially means “There’s nothing quite like it.”

After all, no other cast album has the sound of an audience applauding after seven of its 19 songs. But producer Jay David Saks wanted every number set in The Kit Kat Club to seem as if a live audience had just witnessed it and was showing its approval.

Note the phrase “to seem as if a live audience had just witnessed it.” Bill Rosenfield, the CABARET cast album’s A&R director, reveals that all “the songs were recorded in the studio, and Jay Saks laid in audience responses from a library of applause tapes. Those responses are entirely manufactured.”

Part of the motivation came from Kander. According to Rosenfield, the composer “wanted this recording of CABARET to be different from any other. This is what Jay came up with.”

Rosenfield also divulges more studio intrigue about the canned applause. Director Sam Mendes, he says, “wasn’t happy with the idea and fought hard against it. I held firm because, as I said to Sam, ‘I’m the record guy, and I’m going to side with the composer.’ Sam relented and a few months later even said that he liked the way the applause sounded – not canned at all.”

These two recordings are among CABARET’s seven in the English language. Add to that total more than twice as many in foreign languages.

Will this current revisal, nominated for nine Tonys (including Best Revival of a Musical), be recorded? No firm plans have been made as of this writing, but if the cast does wind up in a studio, Tony nominee Gayle Rankin’s shrieking some lyrics may strike those who haven’t seen the production as over-the-top. Yet Sally’s going out of control makes sense, for she has been going through quite a bit and has much on her mind. Did she want to have a child or an abortion? She had to worry that without money to spend, a doctor might not accept her fur coat as payment.

And while we’re at it, is Cliff correct about the Nazis and his insistence that they move? Rankin’s delivery suggests she’s afraid that he’s right.

No wonder the rendition sounds like a nervous breakdown.

“If You Could See Her” has always been controversial. On October 8, 1966, at the Shubert in Boston, many first-nighters were shocked to hear The Emcee insist that if we saw the gorilla the affectionate way he does, “She wouldn’t look Jewish at all.”

By Broadway, The Emcee (to Joel Grey’s consternation) the lyric was changed to “She isn’t a meeskite at all.” The word, unfamiliar to many, was introduced late in the first act when Herr Schultz sang “Meeskite” to entertain the guests at his engagement party; it’s a Jewish term that describes a not-so-good-looking individual.

When the film was released in 1972, much was made of Bob Fosse and screenwriter Jay Presson Allen’s courage in reverting to “She wouldn’t look Jewish at all.” Ah, but both Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider, his intended – as well as the song – had been dropped, so “She isn’t a meeskite at all” would have only been confusing.

In this 2024 production, the gorilla is, for the first time, not an adorable looking fuzzball whom wears an amusing hat and a broad grin. Here director Rebecca Frecknall ordered an oversized, menacing, primitive and naked beast that lumbers onto the stage. It conveys what the Nazis wanted people to think: Jews were dangerous and subhuman.

Truth to tell, this revival has not met with the raves that the previous iterations received. Many have missed some clever touches, including this subtle one involving The Emcee.

Eddie Redmayne is initially dressed flamboyantly and effeminately, much in the way that Cumming looked. By show’s end, though, he’s in a formal dress suit, because the Nazis considered his previous look degenerate. So, he’s been frightened to conform. He isn’t going to lose his job – or, more to the point, his life.

So, as for this new CABARET, if you could see it through my eyes, it wouldn’t look meager at all. But if you can’t get to the August Wilson Theatre, two stellar recordings will remind you of the brilliance of CABARET.

Peter Filichia can be heard most weeks of the year on His new book – BRAINTEASERS FOR BROADWAY GENIUSES – is now available on Amazon and at The Drama Book Shop.