Hot List: The Kit Kat Boys
By Jerry Portwood
Pictured In Mirror (from left): Caleb Damschroder, Evan Siegel, Dylan Paul, Benjamin Eakeley, Leeds Hill, and Will Carlyon. Photography by JUCO. Grooming by Angela DiCarlo. Shot at Studio 54, NYC.
This summer, crowds will flock to Manhattan’s Studio 54 to see the new Broadway revival of Cabaret. But many will arrive an hour before curtain call to tease and spank the men and women of the Kit Kat Klub group, the musical’s naughty house band. It’s 1929 Berlin, after all, a time when sexual boundaries are negotiable. In the reprise of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s hugely popular 1998 revival, which snagged numerous Tonys and a new generation of rabid fans for the musical, kink is embraced and paraded on the stage for everyone to enjoy. While Alan Cumming, who has returned in his Tony-winning role as the Emcee, and Michelle Williams, who is making her Broadway debut as the singing strumpet Sally Bowles, bring the star power, it’s the band who first deliver the show’s delicious titillation.
Of the six men in the Kit Kat Klub’s band, five are making their Broadway debuts, and for Leeds Hill, who plays violin and also serves as Cumming’s understudy, it’s a dream come true. “I was obsessed with the movie growing up. I’d watch all the musical numbers when I got home from school,” he says. “My first experience was at 14, when I fell in love with ‘Mein Herr.’ I would see every production I could, so the fact that I’m doing the show feels surreal.”
For Ben Eakeley, who plays soprano sax and clarinet, Cabaret is a test for its audience. “It’s really rewarding to be surprised by people’s reactions,” he says, “to see our snap judgments be wrong.” He should know, as he’s toured with the show since its last Broadway run. “It is one of the most perfect works in musical theater,” he adds. “People think they’re on this happy ride, but then it gets really serious and it’s too late to get out. It’s the ones you don’t really expect to enjoy it who wind up having the best time.” But Caleb Damschroder, on banjo and bassoon, insists that it’s the Kit Kat boys themselves who truly get lost in the revelry. “We have the upper hand,” he says. “We’re smoking cigarettes and not wearing shirts.”