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On This Gay Day | The film ‘Cabaret’ was released in 1972

The musical film Cabaret opened in New York on this day in 1972

The musical Cabaret opened on this day in 1972, it became an iconic moment in the careers of stars Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York.

Set in Belin in 1931 during the Weimar Republic, the musical was written by duo John Kander and Fred Ebb, and is based on the book Berlin Stories written by Christopher Isherwood. The book had previous been adapted into the play I Am Camera.

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It tells the story of a young American actress called Sally Bowles who performs cabaret in The Kit Kat Klub. Brian Roberts, a reserved academic and writer moves into the boarding house where Sally lives, and she introduces him to her bohemian world.

The musical had first been staged in 1966, and Joel Grey had played the role of The Emcee of the nightclub in the original production. For the film version Liza Minelli was cast in the lead role prior to director Bob Fosse being attached to the project. When Fosse came onboard he hired English actor Michael York to play the character of Brian.

Kander and Ebb added two new song for the film production, Mein Herr and Money Money, they became became two of the work’s most recognisable songs, they also added the song Maybe This Time which they has written previously as a stand alone song.

The film was a critical and box office success but author Christopher Isherwood, who the based the character of Brian on his own experiences, was disappointed that the film portrayed homosexuality in a negative light. The film was also criticised for glossing over the harsh realities of Germany in the early 1930s.

The film won 10 Academy Awards in including Best Director for Fosse, Best Actress for Minelli, and Best Supporting Actor for Joel Grey.

Cabaret has become Minelli’s signature work, shortly after the release of the film she collaborated again with Fosse on her 1973 TV special Liza With a Z, and her subsequent career has largely been built around the songs and style she embraced in this period.

If you’d like to explore Cabaret and the world around it, check out Christopher Isherwood’s original book, watch the 2011 film Christopher and His Kind starring Matt Smith, take a listen to Liza With a Z and explore the life of Bob Fosse and the making of the film via the 2019 TV series Fosse / Verdon.

The musical ‘Rent’ opened on Broadway on this day in 1996

The musical Rent opened on Broadway on this day in 1996. It went on to become one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history.

Set in the East Village of New York City and follows a group of young artists and musicians as they struggle to pursue their dreams and maintain their relationships in the face of poverty, illness, and the AIDS epidemic. It is based on the opera La Bohème.

The show is known for its powerful, emotional story and its contemporary rock-influenced score, which features a mix of rock, funk, and pop styles. Rent has been widely praised for its bold and poignant portrayal of life in the 1990s and its enduring message of hope and love in the face of adversity.

Tragically the musical’s author and composer Jonathan Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic dissection on January 25, just a few hours after the final dress rehearsal of Rent.

The musical was adapted into a film in 2005 with Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Anthony Rapp, Travie Thoms, Jesse L Martin and Idina Menzel among its cast members. Many of them had appeared in the New York stage production.

This post was written in 2021. 

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