Michelle Williams’ Broadway debut in Cabaret opened on Thursday (24Apr14) to mixed reviews from critics who were impressed with the production but disappointed with the Hollywood actress’ performance.
Moviemakers Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall are co-directing a revival of the classic musical at the Studio 54 theatre, and following opening night, critics praised the production, with Terry Teachout from The Wall Street Journal branding it “fabulously good” while David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter hailed the “electrifying revival” and Ben Brantley from the New York Times approved of the “successful formula”.
However, Williams’ turn as English cabaret performer Sally Bowles, made famous by Liza Minnelli in the 1972 film adaptation, failed to impress some reviewers, with Brantley writing that the actress, “doesn’t look all that happy to be there. I’m assuming that’s more a matter of character interpretation than of personal discomfort, but it does put sort of a damper on the festivities.”
Variety’s Marilyn Stasio adds, “It’s obvious that this ladylike thesp (thespian) isn’t comfortable in the skin of this impulsive, irresponsible and utterly irresistible girl,” and Tom Teodorczuk from Britain’s The Independent insists her portrayal “lacks desperation and edge” and is “devoid of depth”.
However, not all those watching were disappointed with Williams – Rooney called her performance “riveting”, Teachout described it as “poignant”, and Elysa Gardner from USA Today hailed the actress as a “real revelation”. Williams’ co-star Alan Cumming, reprising his Tony award-winning role as the Master of Ceremonies, was singled out for praise, with Rooney calling his performance “a knockout” and “fiercely alive”.
The opening night was watched by Hollywood couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, plus Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon and 30 Rock actress Jane Krakowski