BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley in Cabaret

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley get ready to come to the Cabaret

Willkommen! Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne is close to fulfilling his dream… of playing the decadent master of ceremonies in the classic musical Cabaret in the West End.

And he is tipped to share the stage with Jessie Buckley, who will play Sally Bowles.

This column can reveal that a new production of Cabaret — starring the powerhouse duo of Redmayne and Buckley — is due to begin performances at the Playhouse Theatre, near the Embankment in London, in early November.

The show is centred on a seedy Berlin after-hours haunt called the Kit Kat Klub, in the last gasp of the Weimar Republic, as the Nazis ascend to power.

Joe Masteroff wove his story — about a naïve Englishman who goes to Berlin; a cabaret with a grotesque host; and the joint’s star turn, the English Fraulein Sally Bowles — from Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories and John Van Druten’s play I Am A Camera.

This column can reveal that a new production of Cabaret — starring the powerhouse duo of Eddie Redmayne (pictured) and Jessie Buckley — is due to begin performances at the Playhouse Theatre, near the Embankment in London, in early November 

Redmayne (pictured far right in 2001) was just 19 when he first tackled the role; as part of an amateur troupe that took Cabaret to the Underbelly at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2001

John Kander and Fred Ebb provided music and lyrics, Harold Prince added his innovative showmanship, and theatre history was made. 

Joel Grey became indelibly associated with the role after playing the Emcee in that first production in 1966 — and later in the 1972 film. 

But Alan Cumming also left his mark; playing the menacing charmer in London in 1993; and on Broadway in 1998 and 2014.

Redmayne was just 19 when he first tackled the role; as part of an amateur troupe that took Cabaret to the Underbelly at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2001.

And during one of my earliest interviews with him, he expressed his desire to play the Emcee professionally in London.

Redmayne and Buckley (pictured) have been approved by John Kander, and those representing the estates of Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff

He has musical form, having played ‘workhouse boy number 43’ (as he put it) as a ten-year-old, in the Cameron Mackintosh production of Oliver!

That show was directed by Sam Mendes who, incidentally, directed an acclaimed Cabaret at the Donmar Warehouse (starring Cumming and Jane Horrocks), and then on Broadway (co-directed with Rob Marshall) with a sensational Natasha Richardson as Sally Bowles.

I have since seen Michelle Williams, Emma Stone and Sienna Miller play Bowles (all opposite Cumming). Strangely, though, of the many Cabarets I’ve watched, it was Rufus Norris’s version, staged at the Savoy Theatre (and produced by Bill Kenwright), that hit me hardest, with its warnings of fascism, nationalism and prejudice.

Redmayne also told me that he was ‘obsessed with singing’ when younger, so it didn’t surprise me when he was cast in the movie musical Les Miserables.

Earlier this year he completed work on Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them 3; and he is now in New York, filming The Good Nurse. 

Julian Clary as Emcee and Amy Nuttall as Sally Bowles in Cabaret at the Apollo Theatre in 2007

Will Young as Emcee and Michelle Ryan as Sally Bowles in Cabaret at the Savoy Theatre in 2012

Will Young and Michelle Ryan run through scenes in costume ahead of the opening of the musical at the Savoy Theatre in 2012

But all film work’s on hold from the autumn, so he can prepare for a solid run of several months in Cabaret. 

His co-star Buckley, meanwhile, still has a couple of film projects to complete before principal rehearsals (pencilled in for October). 

She’s been in constant demand since she broke through as Marya Bolkonskaya in the BBC’s War & Peace; appearing in various other TV dramas (Chernobyl and Fargo), and the films Judy and Misbehaviour.

But she really showed what she’s capable of in Beast, Wild Rose and I’m Thinking Of Ending Things. She’s marvellous, too, opposite Josh O’Connor in Simon Godwin’s National Theatre film of Romeo & Juliet, shown recently on Sky Arts.

Like Redmayne, she knows about singing (even though Sally Bowles is supposed to be untalented in that department), to which those who saw her shine in the otherwise unwatchable BBC very-light-on-entertainment nonsense I’d Do Anything can attest.

For starters, she comes from a musical family; and she’s adept at many styles (as she proved in the country & western-themed movie Wild Rose).

Her Sally Bowles will join a long stage line that includes Judi Dench, who originated the role in London in 1968.

Redmayne and Buckley have been approved by John Kander, and those representing the estates of Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff.

Check back soon, old chums, to see what happens next . . . your table’s waiting. 

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