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Cabaret - Broadway

Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming star in Roundabout's revival of Kander and Ebb's classic.

Alan Cumming on Being an ‘Older and Wiser’ Emcee and Pressing People’s Buttons Again in Cabaret

Alan Cumming on Being an ‘Older and Wiser’ Emcee and Pressing People’s Buttons Again in Cabaret
Alan Cumming
Now I’m going back to it at 48 and I still feel sexy, confident and in my prime.

Alan Cumming is about to rekindle the same magic he conjured up in Cabaret on Broadway in the Tony-winning 1998 revival, which earned the actor a Tony Award for playing the role of the mischievous Emcee. Cumming will once again take on the part in Roundabout’s reprise mounting of the production, opening this spring at Studio 54 with movie star Michelle Williams putting on the iconic bowler hat of Sally Bowles. In a new interview with Bleep Magazine, Cumming talks about what it feels like to approach the same role a decade later.

“I think it’s really interesting that you can come back to certain roles at different times in your life and there are other things to say and the production becomes something else,” Cumming told the magazine for its October issue, in which he appears on the cover. “For me, returning to that role, I first did it when I was 28 and I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown, and then I did it when I was 33 and I felt sexy, confident and in my prime. Now I’m going back to it at 48 and I still feel sexy, confident and in my prime, but I’m older and wiser and I think it’ll have different layers to it.”

Cumming also acknowledged that the country—and the world—were in far different states in 1998 than they are now, and Cabaret’s message could take on a different meaning in 2014.

“When we did it in New York the first time, it was when the Clinton impeachment and Monica Lewinsky scandal was happening and I remember being so appalled by this sort of puritanical, shameful society [the scandal] was revealing to me,” said Cumming. “I thought it was interesting that Cabaret was a celebration of diverse sexuality in a way. Now, I think it’s interesting with everything that’s happening Russia. We are living in a time when a huge superpower is actively trying to suppress people for being gay and for being themselves. I think it will be fascinating to do the show and press buttons in this time because of that.”

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