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"Welcome to the Cabaret" sings the Emcee of the Kit Kat Club through painted lips, as the people of Berlin 1929 join him. Three Broadway versions of this show (1967, 2987, 1998) follow the same story and share most songs. Musical number exclusively in the Original 1967 version include Meeskite and Why Should I Wake Up? Numbers only in the Revised 1987 version include I Don't Care Much, Don't Go and The Money Song. All three versions include Willkommen, Perfectly Marvelous, Tomorrow Belongs to Me, Cabaret, Don't Tell Mama, It Couldn't Please Me More and Two Ladies.
Heading for Berlin in a railway compartment in Clifford Bradshaw, a young impoverished American writer who has been roaming Europe in an increasingly frantic search for the inspiration for novel number two. He is joined by Ernst Ludwig, an attractive young Berliner who appears to be in the smuggling business. When Cliff inadvertently helps him, Ernst gratefully gives him the name of a likely rooming-house in Berlin.
It is the Fraulein Schneider's house. She rents Cliff a room for half its usual price. She shrugs her shoulders. She's lived through so much -- nothing is that important (So What?).
Cliff takes out his typewriter. But it's New Year's Eve. Ernst has mentioned a cabaret called the Kit Kat Klub. At the moment it seems much more inviting than the typewriter.
The Kit Kat Klub is a cross-section of Berlin night-life: thronged with fat, middle-class Germans-prostitutes-homosexuals-the flotsam and jetsam of a doomed city.
As Cliff enters the Emcee introduces Sally Bowles, a young English girl. As Sally sings Don't Tell Mama, it becomes apparent that her voice is not the main reason for her employment. Max, the club owner, keeps looking at her in a proprietary fashion. But Sally is looking at Cliff.
Sally arranged to meet Cliff. He invites her home, but she refuses -- explaining that "Max is most terribly jealous."
The next day Sally suddenly appears in Cliff's room with her baggage. Max has thrown her out. Can she stay with Cliff? Cliff finally agrees (Perfectly Marvelous).
The Emcee and two frauleins indicate that everybody in Berlin lives with somebody (Two Ladies).
Fraulein Schneider is being courted by Herr Schultz, a widower who lives in her house. He is Jewish and the owner of a fruit shop, from which he brings her a costly pineapple (It Couldn't Please Me More).
Months pass. Cliff is getting nowhere with his novel -- but enjoying like with Sally (Why Should I Wake Up?). But Sally is pregnant. Cliff is upset -- then happy. Ernst arrives to offer him a job smuggling a briefcase into Germany. Needing the money, Cliff accepts.
Fraulein Kost, a prostitute, discovers that her landlady, Fraulein Schneider, is having an affair with Herr Schultz. Herr Schultz announces they are to be married in three weeks (Married). Sally arranged an engagement party at the fruit shop.
Cliff arrives at the party with the smuggled suitcase. He hesitantly gives it to Ernst, who wears a swastika arm-band. Herr Schultz, rather drunk, sings a Yiddish-type song (Meeskite). Ernst decides to leave, but Fraulein Kost lures him back by singing a Nazi song (Tomorrow Belongs to Me). When all the guests join in exultantly, the party suddenly turns sour.
The Emcee and the Kit Kat Girls do a Rockette routine which turns into a goose-step.
Fraulein Schneider breaks her engagement to Herr Schultz. She is afraid the Nazis will come to power (What Would You Do?).
The Emcee echoes her predicament. He's in love with a female gorilla (If You Could See Her).
Cliff decides to take Sally home to America. Berlin is not going to be any place to raise a family. But Sally refuses. She loves Berlin and her life there (Cabaret).
They have a savage argument. Sally disappears -- returning the next day. She's had an abortion. Heartbroken, Cliff prepares to leave along, secretly hoping she will join him in Paris. But Sally informs him that she's always hated Paris. Cliff sadly closes the door behind him.
In the train Cliff begins to write about Sally and the people of Berlin as, in his memory, they surround the compartment -- singing, dancing, living on the toboggan that led to the Third Reich.
Cabaret was first presented on November 20, 1966, by Harold Prince in association with Ruth Mitchell at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City.