Paul Scanlan

actor. singer. determined mover.


Paul Scanlan was mesmerizing to watch as the Emcee. He simultaneously charmed and disgusted the audience by switching between charismatic entertainer and twisted pervert. Armed with a silky singing voice, Scanlan sang his ghostly and hypnotic rendition of “I Don’t Care Much,” for example, making the audience cringe in their seats and yearn for more at the same time. I was also delighted to see that Scanlan did not call upon Joel Grey or Alan Cumming for inspiration, particularly at the end of “If You Could See Her.”
Scanlan’s Emcee is a charismatically good singer with great audience rapport... he proves himself more than capable of leading the audience by the nose. His renditions of “If You Could See Her” and “Money” are spot on entertaining.
Actor Paul Scanlan drives and unites the whole show. Sometimes the Emcee functions as stage manager, as when Scanlan holds a pineapple between Shulman and Petkofsky as they sing their duet... At other times, he hovers high above the stage action watching, or more intimately over a character’s shoulder, his make-up suggesting he is more of a Mephistopheles, planting the seed in all for darker choices. Scanlan’s robust physique and tight jaw gives him a strong, even dangerous presence. He totally reinvents the Emcee, not so much portraying a sexually androgynous entertainer but, with his black pants, tough black boots, and criss- crossed suspenders over his bare chest, something politically engineered for lethal power.
Paul Scanlan is definitely charismatic enough to pull off the crucial role of the Emcee and his strong singing is equally matched by impeccable lyric interpretation and strong chemistry with everyone sharing his scenes. His “I Don’t Care Much,” which was not included in the original Broadway production but put back in to the show with subsequent productions, is quite possibly one of the best versions I’ve heard. Heart-breaking, thoughtful, wistful - it’s pretty much perfect.
Part omnisexual sideshow barker, part devious puppet master, the emcee (an
absorbing Paul Scanlan) is tasked with arguably the most difficult—and most fun—role, and Scanlan clearly relishes the opportunity. The idea that his scantily clad host figure is somehow pulling all the strings is believable with the actor’s leading presence, searing gaze, and capable vocals.
At Keegan, Paul Scanlan’s Emcee brings a slightly different edge to the proceedings because the actor is a bigger, fleshier fellow than Cumming or Joel Grey, who originated the role. Bare-chested except for crossed suspenders, made up in whiteface with arched brows, Scanlan’s more imposing Emcee can be downright menacing. His physicality works especially well in Act 2, as the Nazis gain influence and he echoes their rise. He sings with assured power, too, and it pays off in a number such as “Money (Makes the World Go Round).