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Posted by admin on November 10th, 2023

Interview: Eddie Redmayne Reflects on Why the London Cast Recording of CABARET Is Like One You’ve Never Heard

As BroadwayWorld previously reported, Cabaret is soon coming back to Broadway. Fans need not wait until 2024 to get a taste of Rebecca Frecknall’s electrifying new production, however. You can come hear the music play alone in your room today!

The original London revival cast, led by Olivier Award winners Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckely, was captured live for the 2021 London Cast Recording, which is available to stream and purchase today!

This unique production of Cabaret opened in December 2021 to critical and audience acclaim, widely praised as the ultimate theatrical experience. In April 2022 the production won a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards, the most for any musical revival in Olivier history.

Below, BroadwayWorld’s very own Richard Ridge checks in with Redmayne to discuss the epic role, and the thrill of listening to the acclaimed production as it was recorded live at the Kit Kat Club.

I am so thrilled that you enjoyed it! When we put together this production, it was in the round, the audience was woven into the entire piece and their presence was everything. Recording it live and getting a sense of that atmosphere [was critical], particularly as the Emcee, in which everything is in response. One of the things I found extraordinary while prepping to play the character was that it’s only when you have an audience that the other character is in the room. We recorded this right towards the end of our run, and by that point, every night was different. Had it been recorded on a different night, I bet it would be a completely different feel.

I love that it was recorded later in the run. It adds that extra little bit of everyone finding their characters. It’s electric. And listening to it makes you feel like you are performing right there in our living rooms.

One of the joys of doing something for an extended period as an actor is getting to mine new things and find new things. Audiences are morphous beasts! They change every night. Particularly with this production, we would have people wearing black tie and tuxedos, then other people in fetish gear sitting alongside each other. It was a very inclusive audience filled with often very charismatic people. It gave us so much room to play. Every night felt vibrantly alive. It was important for us to try to register that for the recording.

John Kander and Fred Ebb are my favorite composers. What was it like singing their songs?

I first sang them when I was 15 years old. I did a school production of Cabaret. My parents always say to me that it was that moment they knew that I would aspire for a career on the stage. There is something so hypnotic and funny and witty and delightful and insightful about their music and lyrics.

When I was doing this show, it was at the end of COVID and sadly I did not get to meet John, but we’ve been in email contact. He has been so supportive of our production. This show was the dream for me. It was the piece that got me into theatre in many ways. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d get to do it on the West End stage.

The Emcee is such an iconic role… and you already won an Olivier for your performance!

I was talking to Rebecca Frecknall, our genius director, about this. She says that Cabaret is just one of those shows that directors want to direct. The Emcee is one of those parts that all actors want to play… because the role has so much meat on it that it allows for such individuality. I’ve been back to see every cast that has taken over in the London production. In one hand it’s the same production, and on the other it’s been amazing to watch it change and bend and sculpt over the years.

What unlocked the “Eddie Redmayne Emcee” for you?

There was a moment early on when I was struggling because I was trying to be very literal. I really cared about the Sally-Emcee relationship and how there was an invisible cord that connected them. But on the page… they have no contact. There’s nothing there textually. It was when I stopped trying to look for anything literal and started throwing clay at the wall and finding them through physicality… it was much more about releasing something and then refining it.

There is so much breaking of the fourth wall for this role. Did you have so much fun with that?

That was the bit I enjoyed the most- the moments of creeping amongst an audience. Putting my hand on a knee and watching them turn around and realize it’s me. You never quite know where he will be. The idea of the uncanny and the unexpected was really important to me. I hoped that each audience member would leave with a different experience.

Was it so surreal for you getting to play this apart in the West End after doing it as a kid?

There were definitely imposter syndrome moments. Such icons like Joel [Grey] and Alan [Cumming] have played this part! I relished it every night though. But also getting to watch such formidable actors… on the recording, you get to hear Jessie Buckley, Liza Sadovy and Elliot Levey… They brought so much nuance and depth. The recording really captures that.

I love that this album captures that live feel. I don’t think there has been this kind of live Cabaret captured before…

I feel really lucky that there is a rendition of our version to sit in the extraordinary [catalog of Cabaret recordings]. I listen to different Cabarets depending on the day! There are qualities in each of them that bring delight and fear! I hope that we can enter that group. [Source]

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