Danny Burstein talks Cabaret and Jewish Theater

Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall's revival of Cabaret (which opened on Broadway in 1998) imagined the Kander & Ebb musical so inventively that many theatergoers - including those familiar with the film and previous Broadway incarnations - found it to be the definitive production of the musical.

The show is back on Broadway with the same direction but an entirely new cast (save for Alan Cumming as the Emcee, and Kristin Olness as Kit Kat girl Helga). While the look and feel of the show is mostly consistent with its last run, the actors find new dimension, invigorating their characters with unique energy. One to look out for is Danny Burstein, a Broadway regular who plays the endearing Jewish fruit salesman, Herr Schultz. I spoke with Burstein for a profile in The Jewish Week about preparing for this role, mastering a German accent, and the meaning of Jewish Theater. 

Anyone who has seen a version of the musical “Cabaret” will recall the dazzling, provocative world of the Kit Kat Club, a fictional nightclub in pre-World War II Berlin. At the top of the show, a vivacious emcee, originated by Joel Grey, beckons us inside enticingly. “We have no troubles here!” he promises. “Here, life is beautiful.”

The iconic musical, created by Kander and Ebb with book writer Joe Masteroff, offers an intoxicating glimpse into Weimar decadence. The Kit Kat Club’s star performer, Sally Bowles, and her paramour, an American novelist named Cliff, appear to be almost fantastical, offering each other — and the audience — a taste of wish fulfillment. But there is a second narrative in “Cabaret,” a subtler presence that is equally essential to the work. It is the story of a Jewish character, the show’s only one, who personally experiences Germany’s shifting tide.


Continue the article at The Jewish Week.


photo credit: Joan Marcus