[Natasha] Richardson’s Tony Award came in 1998, for best actress in a musical, for her performance as Sally Bowles, the gifted but desperately needy singer in decadent Weimar Berlin who is at the center of “Cabaret.”
It was a remarkable award: Ms. Richardson’s strengths did not include singing. But her reinvention of a role that was performed memorably by Liza Minnelli in the film proved that a performer could act a song as well as sing it and make it equally affecting.
Ms. Richardson, you see, isn’t selling the song; she’s selling the character,” Ben Brantley, writing in The Times, said of her delivery of the title song. “And as she forges ahead with the number, in a defiant, metallic voice, you can hear the promise of the lyrics tarnishing in Sally’s mouth. She’s willing herself to believe in them, and all too clearly losing the battle.”
-- “Natasha Richardson, 45, Stage and Film Star, Dies”
Alan Cumming, the Emcee to Ms. Richardson's Sally Bowles in the 1998 Cabaret, writing on his blog: “The term 'life force' seems trite but that is what she was: a woman who powered through life and fascinated everyone she encountered. I have been thinking about the times I spent with her since I heard the news of her tragic accident, and the strongest memory I have is of her laughter, her unmistakeable throaty laugh. I think that's a great way to remember someone.”
PLUS: That “defiant, metallic voice” eschewing pretty singing for textured expressiveness and simmering heartbreak in three numbers from the reimagined Kander and Ebb musical, co-directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall.