Eddie Redmayne will return to London theatre, for his first West End role in 10 years, to play the Emcee in Cabaret opposite Jessie Buckley as Sally Bowles. An intimate revival of the classic musical is set to recreate the Weimar-era Kit Kat Club for an audience capped at 550 from this November.
The show will be designed by Tom Scutt, choreographed by Julia Cheng and directed by Rebecca Frecknall, whose acclaimed Almeida production of Tennessee Williams’s Summer and Smoke transferred to the West End in 2018.
Frecknall said Cabaret had always been “dear to my heart”, and that she was in awe of her creative team, “who have come together to create a bold new production as well as a new Kit Kat Club, a bespoke home where we can truly embrace and unlock the world of Cabaret for a new audience”.
The show – which charts the friendship between Sally, an American performer at the riotous Kit Kat, and a shy Brit, Brian – is set against the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Berlin and unflinchingly depicts antisemitism and persecution. Frecknall said it was an important musical and that its revival comes “at a time when its themes and atmosphere feel so contemporary and resonant”.
With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Joe Masteroff, Cabaret is based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood. It opened on Broadway in 1966 and won eight Tony awards; the 1972 film version picked up the same number of Oscars. Joel Grey played the lascivious Emcee both on stage and screen, performing in the musical numbers that interlink the drama. Grey told the Guardian last year that Cabaret took on a “heinous and terrifying subject: the Holocaust” at a time when “there were a lot of people who just wanted to forget about it. They tried to write it out of textbooks.”
Redmayne first played the Emcee 20 years ago in an Edinburgh fringe production. His last West End roles were in Red (in 2009), as the assistant of painter Mark Rothko (played by Alfred Molina), and as Shakespeare’s Richard II (in 2011), both of which were staged at the Donmar Warehouse. Buckley was recently acclaimed for her performance in a film version of Romeo and Juliet shot at the National Theatre.