Cabaret was a great occasion for Broadway, signaling that a musical could be derivative (of Brecht–Weill) but also daring (combining politics, history, and promiscuity). This chapter reveals that opening night was both brilliant and schizophrenic. The first thing the audience noticed while entering the theater was itself in Aronson's huge tilted mirror. The jangled cabaret music provided the fundamental beat of the entertainment, and with the Emcee's garish role and the Kit Kat band and dancers, the cabaret world became the dominant, immediate world. With a detailed description of what transpired onstage, the chapter captures the show's excitement, triumphs, and shortcomings and offers the main newspaper critics' evaluations of the musical while also pinpointing points of public controversy and agreeing with Walter Kerr that the show opened the door to picaresque themes for musicals.
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