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Broadway smash ‘Cabaret’ was born out of obscure Liza Minnelli bomb

The legendary musical “Cabaret” was born out of a little-known Broadway bomb starring Liza Minnelli.

Composer John Kander says the genesis of his 1966 smash, “Cabaret,” with lyricist Fred Ebb, started when one other of Kander and Ebb’s early reveals — “Flora the Purple Menace” — was opening on Broadway.

Kander says in an interview to coincide with a City Corridor celebration of his work with Ebb, we’re advised: “I actually consider that legendary [producer and director] Hal Prince is chargeable for Kander and Ebb. Per week earlier than our present ‘Flora The Purple Menace’ opened, starring Liza Minnelli, Hal advised me and Fred Ebb to return over the day after opening so we may begin our subsequent mission collectively.”

Kander, 94, continued, “This was even earlier than evaluations got here out, and never understanding if it could be a success. ‘Flora’ didn’t find yourself being a success, however the day after we had been in Hal Prince’s residence beginning on a mission that might be ‘Cabaret.’”

“Flora the Purple Menace,” Minnelli’s debut Broadway position, lasted onstage for simply 87 performances. The New York Occasions wrote on the time that the present, “has the looks of being pasted along with bits and items.” And, “The voice [of Minnelli] shouldn’t be but distinctive… She goes to be a preferred singer.”

Though the present didn’t set the world on fireplace — Minnelli nonetheless received a Tony for Finest Actress in a Musical for her position.

Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb in 1969
Composer John Kander (L) and lyricist Fred Ebb (R) dreamed up “Cabaret” in producer Hal Prince’s residence.
Getty Photographs

“Cabaret” then debuted a 12 months later and was a field workplace hit, working for 1,165 performances. Minnelli wound up famously starring within the 1972 movie model. Kander and Ebb later went on to create hits together with “Chicago” and “Kiss of the Spider Girl.”

The City Corridor will current “Broadway By The Yr: The Kander and Ebb Years” just about on Might 10, celebrating the music of the duo.

The City Corridor’s 2021 on-demand season is created, written, and hosted by Scott Siegel with pianist and musical director Ross Patterson.

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Tina Sanders

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