Alumnus stars in revival of Tony-Award winning ‘Cabaret’

Bailey Williams, Video Editor


While he was a theater major at Northwestern, Ned Noyes (Communication ‘00) said he attended the 1998 Broadway revival of “Cabaret,” inspiring a lifelong dream to become associated with the production.

Years later, Noyes will return to Chicago this month to star in a Tony Award-winning revival of “Cabaret.”

“It was one of the most special evenings in the theater I can remember,” Noyes said. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since then to be part of this production, so when the call came to audition for it, I was absolutely so thrilled and honored to actually even get a chance to do it.”

Coming direct from Broadway, Noyes will continue his role as Ernst Ludwig on Feb. 9 at Chicago’s PrivateBank Theatre as part of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 50th Anniversary season. Following the acclaimed 1966 premiere of “Cabaret,” Roundabout Theatre Company’s 1998 revival starring Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson won four Tony Awards.

Even with the show’s legacy, Noyes said he has not felt any fear with regards to living up to the success “Cabaret” productions have previously met. Because of the support from the entire team, the experience has been more akin to “realizing our potential as successors to the throne,” Noyes said.

Prior to his role in “Cabaret,” Noyes said he had not worked on many musicals in his career. Noyes has starred in several productions including the play “You Can’t Take It With You” and the television shows “Boardwalk Empire” and “Alpha House.”

“Cabaret” offers Noyes the chance to work in an environment different than what he is used to, with larger audiences than his previous shows, he said. Still, Noyes said he felt well-prepared for the experience because of the preparation he received at NU.

“I really only came to the realization about how well-prepared we all were after leaving,” Noyes said. “It’s excellent training, so I felt incredibly well-prepared as far as if I were to audition for a classic play, a Shakespeare play versus a musical like ‘Cabaret.’”

Known for songs such as “Cabaret” and “Maybe This Time,” “Cabaret” takes place in Weimar-era Germany just before the Nazi Party came to power. The growth of the Nazi Party progresses alongside the plot of the musical, which focuses on an American performer Sally Bowles, who works at the Kit Kat Klub and develops a complicated relationship with novelist Clifford Bradshaw.

As Ernst Ludwig, Noyes’ character functions as a surprise element in the show. Appearing unthreatening at first, Ludwig meets Bradshaw on a train to Berlin. Later Ludwig returns as a Nazi Party member.

Noyes said it was rewarding for him to work on the production in the current political moment.

“For people who think they know ‘Cabaret,’ this is the best time to be seeing this production,” Noyes said. “It’s speaking to our lives absolutely at this moment. We have a presidential candidate who is talking about making registries for Muslims and denying them entry into our country. We are dancing on a very, very dangerous precipice right now.”  

Noyes isn’t the only one excited about his work in the show. Cast member Lee Aaron Rosen said beyond Noyes’ “spectacular” voice and effortlessness with his role, he is also easy to work with. He said although he knew he liked Noyes from the moment he met him, several friends reached out to Rosen to voice enthusiasm about working with Noyes.

“He was terrific on day one,” Rosen said. “He’s also constantly challenging himself and growing in the role.”

Having previously worked as an actor in Chicago, Noyes said he is looking forward for the chance to reconnect with his local NU professors and colleagues, some of which are planning on seeing his show.

“It will definitely feel like a bit of a homecoming reunion,” Noyes said.

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