I enjoyed hearing that Tom Collins from RENT has made it into the #MVPride event here at Non-Productive. It’s good for reasons beyond the fact that he is a deep character who has made me sob like a baby with his show stopping number. It’s because he is from a community that has been welcoming and public about their love of people of all sexual preference for a long time, the theater. I grew up outside of New York City so I find myself pretty fortunate to have been exposed to the diversity of Broadway’s actors and characters from a young age.
A character from one of my favorite shows that I’d like to bring to your attention is the Emcee from Cabaret. For those of you that don’t know, Cabaret was written in 1966, and takes place in Germany around 1931. Our character, the Emcee, is the host of a cabaret night club. He is open with his sexuality, singing about multiple partners, both male and female. You realize the cabaret is more than just the place of work for this character, but one of the only places he can be himself.
This Emcee has evolved over the years, which I think is why he is so special. The show has been revived many times, and even had a movie in 1972. After the 1987 production, the Emcee was given his own ending ballad “I Don’t Care Much”. In more recent productions the costuming during this scene changes the Emcee from his cabaret Host tuxedo into a concentration camp uniform adorned with the pink triangle. This patch was worn in camps by those who were brought in because of their non-heterosexual life style. It is a tragic moment on stage and in reality for all who were persecuted in this time, but it was nice to see a character represent this group of people who had died.
The last thing I feel that is important about this character, is that his most famous portrayals have been done by actual fluid, bi-sexual and gay actors such as Joel Grey, Neil Patrick Harris, Alan Cumming and more. After 50 years this character continues to be meaningful, and is one of many great proud Broadway characters!