Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome / Fremder, étranger, stranger / Schön, dass ihr da seid / Je suis enchanté! / Happy to see you … sings the Conférencier and lures his guests into the seedy underworld of the Kit Kat Club. It is the 1920s in Berlin. A time marked by extreme poverty and unrestrained indulgence, in which one sells one's own body for a little lust for life.
It is here that the American writer Clifford Bradshaw falls in love with the singer Sally Bowles. She is the celebrated star of the show and dreams of a career as an actress. Clifford makes a living as an English teacher and is working on a novel. When Sally becomes unemployed, she moves in with the young writer. They become a couple and plan a future together. Clifford's boarding house landlady, Miss Schneider, is also newly in love. She wants to marry the Jewish greengrocer Schulz. But the onset of fascist terror quickly shatters private dreams. Nazi henchmen destroy the greengrocer's store. Fräulein Schneider refrains from her marriage intentions. Clifford's friend, the currency smuggler Ernst Ludwig, turns out to be a stooge of the brown violence. Facing the political danger, Clifford wants to leave Germany together with Sally. But she decides in favor of her career and stays in Berlin.
The musical Cabaret tells of love in the Roaring Twenties and of its failure in the face of the Nazis rise to power.
Cabaret is based on the autobiographical stories of the British-American writer Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986). Attracted by the reputation and sexual permissiveness of the city of Berlin, Isherwood had come to Germany in 1929 after dropping out of medical school to write a major Berlin novel. He published his experiences from this period in the book Good bye to Berlin (1939). In 1933 he emigrated to California, where he worked as a screenwriter. In the 1950s he became an icon of the gay and lesbian movement for being one of the first prominent authors to admit his homosexuality.