Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey Celebrate 'Cabaret' 40 Years Later

Cabaret 40th Anniversary New York Screening - H 2013
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Cabaret 40th Anniversary New York Screening - H 2013

The cast shared which songs still stand out, what lengths director Bob Fosse went to darken the Broadway show and how Larry Hagman made sure Grey scored big on that Oscar night.

The absolutely divine decadence of the Kit Kat Klub lives on: Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York descended upon New York City's Ziegfield Theatre Thursday night to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Bob Fosse’s Cabaret.

“The way it’s put together, how the story is told – it’s provocative," Minnelli told The Hollywood Reporter of the 1972 movie musical. “It’s Fosse, it’s all Fosse!”

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Minnelli and the cast donned floor-length peacoats and furs as they braved chilly weather to reunite for the special screening at the Ziegfield, where the movie held its premiere so many years ago. The event was hosted by Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Verizon FiOS.

"It’s just amazing that we’re all still here,” said leading man Michael York. "Here we are, back at the Ziegfield where it started. Extraordinary! Everything has come full circle."

Though Minnelli loves all the tunes penned by songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb, "Maybe This Time" stands out to York particularly because Minnelli’s Sally Bowles is singing about his Brian Roberts.

"The film holds up – in fact, it’s better than ever in this new version," he said, referring to a restored edition of the film being released Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD. "Movie musicals were out of fashion until this came along, and Fosse kicked it out of the park."

Cabaret picked up eight Oscars at the 1973 ceremony including best director (Fosse), best actress (Minnelli) and best supporting actor (Grey).

Grey said he favors the song "If You Could See Her"; the movie revolving around a cabaret star in pre-war Berlin re-established its final line often omitted onstage: "If you could see her through my eyes/She wouldn't look Jewish at all!"

"We didn’t know how important a character that he would end up being, how he would speak for a whole period of Nazism and the murder of Jews, that you could be responsible for telling that story," Grey told THR of his stage-to-screen Emcee role. "I had a couple of letters [from viewers] that said, ‘You dirty, son of—whatever. It’s a very highly stylized character…It was really important to me."

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Minnelli, Grey, York and castmate Marisa Berenson all praised Fosse’s rigorous direction and choreography, which paired to darken the Broadway play for the big screen. 

Minnelli entered the theater to a standing ovation from the full house and entertained with hilarious anecdotes of filming a Nazi-related movie in Munich (“I think they were chicken to make it in Hollywood, so they sent us off to Germany!” she joked), attending Fosse’s Friday night parties on the set and responding to the director’s unique character inspiration.

 "Money, sex, sex with money," Minnelli recalled of Fosse’s direction for her upbeat duet with Grey. "You couldn’t control him. He said, ‘I want you to imagine through this whole number, like the Africans in some places, you have a huge horn!"

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She jokingly denied that Cabaret's Oscar victory came four decades before, quipping: "It’s been 4 1/2 hours!") and revealing that she had already "adjusted" to the probability of Diana Ross’ win for Lady Sings the Blues

“[M]y next door neighbor was the great Larry Hagman, and we had spent the day together before I went to the [Oscars], and he said, ‘Don’t worry about anything, just don’t think about it, just have a good time,” Grey recalled. “I came home that night and on my doorstep, there was this enormous statue. It was engraved: ‘To the best f--king neighbor I ever had.’ He was afraid I would come home empty-handed! Gotta love a guy like that.”