'Cabaret' Star Gayle Rankin Has Heard All Your Sally Bowles Takes

Yeah, and a catharsis. She’s a phoenix. Whether people want to agree or not, that’s the truth. She makes some really difficult, complicated decisions and is a complicated, flawed human being, but brave. Brave and good.

There’s this sentiment among Cabaret fans that Sally is not supposed to be a strong singer. Is there a degree of pulling back or altering your vocal abilities when you perform that song?

I don’t know if I agree, because there’s literally nowhere in the text that says that she isn’t a good singer. It’s this interesting thing that people and history have created about her, which I find to be totally fascinating. And look, I am not the best vocalist in the world, but I’m a trained voice. But the voice just wasn’t something I could fixate on. It always comes from acting for me. My Sally is certainly more of an artist than she is a singer. She’s way more of a performance artist. She’s a creative, so the voice was just something that was secondary. Maybe that’s why people assume she’s not a good singer. It’s like, What’s a good singer? It’s so much about opinion and subjectivity, which is so much of what Sally is too and what she represents in our culture

Do you ever worry that people who are unfamiliar with the show might think you’re not a strong singer?

No, I don’t care. Of course, that thought has crossed my mind, but there’s so much about this that I can’t worry about it. I am really appreciative of this conversation, actually, because there’s so much dialogue about what’s good, and what’s not good, and what’s musical theater, and what’s not musical theater, and what Cabaret is supposed to be, or what Sally’s supposed to be, or not supposed to be. It’s just fascinating. People feel like they have ownership over that.

It certainly asked me to grow thick skin or a different layer of skin. But I don’t have thick skin. I just don’t and I don’t tend to create it, because it’s not who I am as an artist or as a person. It’s vulnerable, but I am willing to do that for my work. I know who I am and I know what I’m doing. I know I’m preaching, but none of this is by accident. For instance, if people think, Why is she singing it like that? Did she have a bad night or something? It’s like, That’s the point, sweetheart! That’s the point. You’re missing the point, babe. It’s fascinating to see how behind we are as a culture, but also, I can’t dictate to people what they like and don’t like. I appreciate people who want to be challenged and open their minds to what art is, and how we experience women, and performance, and beauty, and palatability.

The Kit Kat Club is a very unique theater. You’re served schnapps when you enter, the alcohol and vibes are flowing, but has that led to some people getting a little too loosey-goosey during the show?

A little frisky, yeah.

Do you notice any of the crowd shenanigans that have occurred while on stage?

Oh, yeah. Last night. Just like Chatty Cathies, you know? People like to chat. People sometimes take some pictures and videos, which we don’t love. It’s just a shame, but it’s fascinating. We’ve created a club environment and it’s a part of the show. Being inside of that gives us fuel. I’m certainly not encouraging disrespectful or bad behavior in any way, but we also are not trying to stop people from having a good time. We want people to be with us and hopefully, respectfully.

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