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Travel Back in Time with FST

January 19, 2024

This winter, FST takes Cabaret audiences on a mega-hit musical ride through time with the hit Cabaret, Up on the Roof, and the popular music revue, Take it to the Limit. Although both Cabarets feature numerous chart-topping hits, each one focuses on its own distinct musical sound that remains influential to this day.

Up on the Roof is bursting with polished pop music from the ‘50s and ‘60s, created by legendary songwriters like Carole King and Gerry Goffin in Midtown Manhattan.

“These writers were influenced by the city they lived in,” said Rebecca Hopkins, FST’s Managing Director and Lead Developer of Up on the Roof. “At the time, New York was the most diverse city in the world and these writers absorbed the music around them and put it into their songs.”

Take it to the Limit, on the other hand, is firmly rooted in the gritty, Americana Rock & Roll of the 1970s.
“This music really started to return Rock & Roll back to its Southern roots. Ultimately, the South is where the genre was actually born,” added Hopkins. “Most of the artists highlighted in Take it to the Limit weren’t necessarily Southern, but they embraced those sounds and the strong tradition of storytelling.”

Together, these two new Cabarets take audiences through three decades of some of the most impactful music of the 20th century.


Featuring hits by Burt Bacharach and Hal David as well as Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Up on the Roof is a hit with audiences, who have called the show “Absolutely fabulous,” “Outstanding,” and “Beyond compare.”

Audience member Bruce A. said, “We’ve been coming for 10 years, and this may have been my favorite [show]. I loved the background on the [song]writers, who they were, and how their private lives affected the songs they wrote. Each cast member was incredibly strong in their own talents and together.”

Up on the Roof is packed with more than two dozen songs written by the musical geniuses at and around the Brill Building in Manhattan during the ‘50s and ‘60s. Their creations would eventually become chart toppers, recorded by artists like Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, and even Elvis.


Unlike the chirpy doo-wop and love ballad writers in Midtown Manhattan, Take it to the Limit highlights artists that both wrote and performed their own songs. In the 1970s, rock bands like Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles made names for themselves as performers as well as songwriters.

Thanks to artists like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, the emergence of singer-songwriters allowed new artists and music styles to rise, like the country rock group The Eagles. Even artists who didn’t write all their own music, like Linda Ronstadt, experimented by mixing elements of different genres together.
"The artists in Take it to the Limit each had their unique style and sound, and played a pivotal role in shaping the musical fabric of the 1970s," said show director Catherine Randazzo. "CCR’s swampy, blues-infused rock, Eric Clapton’s virtuosic guitar work, and Fleetwood Mac’s harmonious storytelling all contributed to the rich tapestry of '70s Rock & Roll."


While the decades of these shows may be different, there’s more crossover than one would initially think.
Carole King, one of the most prolific Brill Building songwriters, went on to have her own solo career skyrocket in the '70s, both because of the explosion of new music and her own re-interpretations of past hits from her days “up on the roof” in New York.

Some of the biggest hits from the Brill Building borrowed elements from different genres, like the bluesy tones in “Walk On By” or the Latin groove in “Spanish Harlem.” Genre-mixing is also what gave '70s rockers such distinct sounds, blending folk and country stylings with blues and rock beats.

Where the sweet and smooth era of the Brill Building ends in Up on the Roof, the long and infamous careers of '70s rockstars that further changed the music industry are just beginning with Take it to the Limit.

Whether you like East Coast pop or West Coast country rock, there’s a little something for everyone in FST's Cabaret Series this season.

Pictured: Jannie Jones, Brandon Wardell, Joey Panek, and Jacquelyne Paige. Photo by John Jones.