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'Cabaret' Goes Disco
A Broadway show set in a decadent nightclub moves to a place that used to be a decadent nightclub.

Monday, February 01,1999 - 10:12 AM ET

Alan Cumming outside '54'


(CBS) It was the late '70s, and a nightclub on New York's West 54th Street became the symbol of disco decadence. Now, more than two decades later. Studio 54 has become the home of Cabaret, a show that illustrates the decadence of another era.

From the time the doors opened in April 1977, New York nightlife had a new look, and Studio 54 was defining the style. On any given night, the party palace admitted the likes of Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, and Halston, while leaving scores of others behind the ever-present velvet ropes.

Sex, drugs, and disco reigned until 1980, when the Feds crashed the party and the club's founders went to prison for tax evasion. But last November, the curtain rose again on Studio 54 when the hit musical Cabaret moved in.

Alan Cumming, one of the show's stars, recently took CBS This Morning on a tour of the nightclub-turned-theater, pointing out that people still have to wait to get in. "Twenty years ago," explains the 33-year-old actor, "lots of people were standing out in the cold, not able to get in, because they weren't groovy enough. Now, 20 years later, people stand out here, not able to get in because Cabaret is sold out."

Cabaret takes place in a seedy Berlin nightclub during the 1930s, when sex, drugs, and adult entertainment ruled the night. After a stint in Times Square, the show moved, but only after Studio 54 underwent a $1.2 million renovation.

Cumming says Cabaret has "found its true home. Perfect match of two different things. If these walls could talk…they probably would tell us a lot of things."

Studio 54's dance floor has been converted into an area where the audience sits at tables to watch the show. It's designed to help theater-goers feel that they are actually in the club where Cabaret is set.

One advantage of the move, from Cumming's viewpoint, is the size of his dressing room. "Mine is, like, five times the size of the one I had at the Kit Kat Klub," he says.

Copyright 1999, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved