No sets? Few props? No problem, says Bebe Neuwirth on 'deconstructed' 'Cabaret' revival | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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No sets? Few props? No problem, says Bebe Neuwirth on 'deconstructed' 'Cabaret' revival

Bebe Neuwirth poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

NEW YORK (AP) — Bebe Neuwirth is well-known from her film and television roles, but she says acting on Broadway is what she loves best.

The two-time Tony Award winner could pick up a third trophy this month for “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club,” a stripped-down revival that Neuwirth says challenged and invigorated her.

She plays Fraulein Schneider in the show, which welcomes guests with neon-lit hallways leading to a vibrant, reimagined Kit Kat Club. The production centers on a round stage with audience members on all sides, no sets and few props, which she says puts the focus on the iconic story and music.

Neuwirth's remarkable television career has included prominent roles in “Cheers,” “Frasier,” and “Madam Secretary,” but she’s enjoying the chance to grow as a stage performer. She recently spoke to The Associated Press about acting without any crutches, her Tony nod, and her diverse career.

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.


AP: “Cabaret” has been revived many times. How is this production interpreted?

NEUWIRTH: (Director Bob) Fosse’s take on ‘Cabaret’ is really sort of indelible. This is entirely different. It is that beautiful material that is on the page and on the piano and brought to life — in a completely new world. So I think of it as this is “Cabaret” deconstructed and reconstructed. So you get to see the show and feel the show and hear the show new. It’s brand new and it is absolutely, purely “Cabaret.” It’s just extraordinary and beautiful.

AP: How is being onstage different for you personally?

NEUWIRTH: I’m older now. You know, I’ve never left the theater. I’m always on stage somewhere doing something. That’s where I love to be best. But to be in a musical on Broadway at the age of 65 feels very different from when I was on Broadway in a musical when I was 27. I like to think that I have better access to myself, that I’m a little more adept at what I do. I am always trying to be better. I feel like after all these years, hopefully I’ve gotten better.

AP: The audience is all around you and there's no sets and very few props. How is that experience for you?

NEUWIRTH: When I walked into rehearsal and they said, “Oh, and there’s no scenery,” I went, "So we’re all playing in the round and there’s nothing to sit on? There’s no place to perch? And I tell you, if I only played this way for the rest of my life, I’ll be happy. I absolutely love playing in the round. I love not having all kinds of stuff on the stage. It’s just the material. And it’s just so satisfying to be that close to the material.

AP: How did it feel to be nominated a third time?

NEUWIRTH: I suppose it does feel different than before, but it’s been a while. I’m a little different than I was. But I do remember — I do have this vague memory of both times I was nominated in the past, of it feeling very surreal and not being able to liken it to anything else. I don’t know what else it’s like. But it is thrilling.

AP: How have your Jewish roots influenced your role in this show, which is set in Nazi Germany?

NEUWIRTH: I am very grateful to be an artist right now. And I’m very grateful to be a Jewish artist who is helping to tell this story of “Cabaret.” I feel the responsibility. I am a German Jew. I’m also a Russian Jew. I’m a Ukrainian Jew. I feel great responsibility. I’m honored to have that responsibility. A significant part of me is deeply conscious of that every time I step on the stage.

AP: You’re also well-known for TV roles. Does it matter to you which medium people appreciate most?

NEUWIRTH: My own personal preference is the theater. I would rather be on stage than anywhere else. That’s where I started. I’ve been on stage — dancing and ballet since I was 6 or 7 years old, so that’s where I am most comfortable. I think I probably do what I feel is my best work — on stage. But that’s me. That’s what I’m comfortable with. But an audience, if they see me in a television show or a film or voicing a cartoon character and they like that, great. I’m very happy.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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