Cabaret (Cabaret song)

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"Cabaret" is the title song from the 1966 musical of the same name. It is sung by the character Sally Bowles. The music was composed by John Kander and the lyrics by Fred Ebb.


In the musical, the song is performed by the character Sally Bowles in a night club setting in Nazi Germany in 1931. Her lover has told her that he is taking her back to America so that they can raise their baby together in safety. Sally protests as she thinks their life in Berlin is wonderful and she states politics have nothing to do with them or their affairs. After a heated row, Sally goes on stage singing “Cabaret” (“life is a cabaret, old chum”), thus confirming her decision to live in carefree ignorance of the impending problems in Germany.

The version of the song used in the musical includes a verse beginning:

"I used to have a girlfriend known as Elsie
With whom I shared
Four sordid rooms in Chelsea..."

The verse goes on to describe her friend's prostitution, alcoholism and early death. Usually this is omitted in other commercial recordings of the song.


A review by Robert Feldberg on explains Michelle Williams' interpretation of the song in the 2014 Broadway revival in relation to the musical's plot:[1]

Urging us to "come to the cabaret," it’s not with joy or defiance, but (as Natasha Richardson also performed it in 1998) with increasing fear and sorrow. Unable to summon the strength to alter the course of her life, she breaks down.

Critical reception[edit]

AllMusic wrote that the 1972 film "contains some definitive Minnelli performances, particularly her rendition of the title song".[2]

Reviews of the 2014 Broadway revival included: The Guardian described the song as "the hardest scene in the show, so shopworn as to have long ago collapsed into kitsch".[3] Broadway World wrote Michelle Williams' "version of the title song has a wrenching, dead-eyed quality that hauntingly undercuts its light lyrics."[4] It has been described as "stirring",[5] "devastating",[6] and "jaunty".[1]

Notable recordings[edit]


  1. ^ a b FELDBERG, ROBERT. "Theater review: 'Cabaret'".
  2. ^ "Cabaret [Original Soundtrack Recording] - Original Soundtrack - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic".
  3. ^ Brockes, Emma (24 April 2014). "Cabaret review – Alan Cumming is saucy and menacing in a sly revival" – via The Guardian.
  4. ^ Roundups, Review. "Review Roundup: CABARET Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!".
  5. ^ Stasio, Marilyn (25 April 2014). "Broadway Review: 'Cabaret' Starring Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming".
  6. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (25 April 2014). "Cumming makes 'Cabaret' revival hottest Broadway show again".
  7. ^ "". Retrieved May 12, 2017.
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