Queer as Folk heartthrob Randy Harrison makes the iconic Emcee his very own when the revival of a Broadway classic hits Atlanta.

By Matthew Holley

The illustrious Broadway musical Cabaret lands in Atlanta to light up the Fox Theatre to kick off November with a bang. In honor of its 50th anniversary season, the national tour of theTony Award-winning revival hits town. The show and its accompanying glitz and glamour runs November 1-6.

As any theater queen can tell you, Cabaret is set against the backdrop of a pre-Nazi Berlin and the notorious Kit Kat Klub, home to the Emcee, single gal Sally Bowles and a boisterous loveable ensemble. Each night the eccentric performers claim the stage, enticing the crowd and encouraging everyone to leave all their worries at the door. The show features the iconic songs “Cabaret,” “Wilkommen,” and the fierce “Maybe This Time.”

Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret originally opened on Broadway in 1966, in London in 1968, and on film in 1972. It was in March, 1998, that the revival with the legendary Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson started the whole fury over again before taking its final bow on January, 2004.

Ten years later, Cabaret returned with Cumming reprising his Tony-winning role as the Emcee. The likes of Michelle Williams, Emma Stone and Sienna Miller played Sally Bowles.

For the 50th anniversary tour, the magnanimously talented Andrea Goss makes Sally Bowles her very own. To celebrate the show’s grand entrance to Atlanta, Goliath catches up with the production’s newest Emcee, the handsome, critically acclaimed and native Atlanta actor Randy Harrison of Wicked and Queer as Folk fame.

What attracted you most to the role of the Emcee?

The role is iconic for so many reasons. The show is so good, and it’s an amazing opportunity for an actor to use all of themselves in bringing the role to life, so I was excited to be a part of the production. 

How rigorous was the audition process?

I auditioned with the song “Willkommen.” I had to do a work session with a lot of the introductory dialogue with the music and learning the steps with the choreographer, and repeat the process one more time. Therefore, the audition process wasn’t quite as rigorous as actually waiting to hear if I got the part. That took a couple of months of waiting to hear back.

Did actors who came before you in the role influence making it your own?

Absolutely! I am a huge admirer of all the legends who played the Emcee. Back in the day, I saw Alan [Cumming] play the role two to three times. I knew his take on the role very well, but I did watch it again: the film, YouTube videos and anyone I could in order to get ideas.

What do you hope first timers will take away from the show?

The show is harrowing and surprising and really intelligent. The finale is absolutely unforgettable. People know of it and the film, but the show is excellent at subverting audience expectations. It is a thrill and titillating, really hitting you in the gut. I think it will be especially powerful in Atlanta.

How tough is a national tour versus running in one location?

A tour is pretty grueling. I have been on the road for the better part of a year, moving from one hotel to the next, constantly packing and unpacking. However, it has been a wonderful way to see the country, especially during an election year. 

What’s one of your favorite things about doing the show night after night?

The audience is my scene partner, and to be in a setting where the front row is so close to the stage is very rewarding for my performance and me.

So many series have been revived as of late, is there any talk of a Queer as Folk reunion or revival?

The fans have been discussing it for years since the show ended. And I know myself and the rest of the cast would be up for it. As of right now though, there is no official talk of a reunion or revival.

What is next for you?

Rest and nesting, I miss my home! I also just developed and directed a new web series that I shot last fall called New York Is Dead. And I’m just looking forward to getting back in front of the camera again.

Want to go?
What: Cabaret
When: November 1-6
Where: Fox Theatre
Info: foxtheatre.org