Story: Works from the canon of composer John Kander and his long-time partner, the late lyricist Fred Ebb, fill this tidy musical revue that was conceived by director Scott Ellis, choreographer Susan Stroman and librettist David Thompson. Featuring selections from shows such as Chicago, Cabaret, The Happy Time, The Rink and New York, New York, it opened on Broadway in March 1991 and closed a year later after 408 performances.
Highlights: Director Edward Coffield writes in his program notes that the revue originally was conceived “to explore these songs out of the context of the original shows.” With some delightfully dazzling interpretations by a cast including Katy Tibbets, Stephanie Long, Johanna Elkana Hale, Martin Fox, Charlie Ingram, Peter Merideth and Emily Fisher, the two acts and 90 minutes of this production fly, or rather step, by all too briskly, leaving the audience wanting more of Kander’s intriguing compositions and Ebb’s clever lyrics.
Other Info: Coffield’s notes help explain a quizzical number such as Mr. Cellophane, from the musical Chicago but here featuring Martin Fox as a somewhat angry homeless man. It’s a bizarre approach that is in jarring contrast to its original setting wherein colorful Roxy Hart’s timid husband watches meekly as the oblivious world moves by him. The touch of anger in Fox’s voice is appropriate to his character but not necessarily to the spirit of Ebb’s poignant lyrics.
Similarly, Fox croons the title tune from Cabaret not from the familiar character of disillusioned nightclub singer Sally Bowles but from the perspective of the MC at the Kit Kat Club. Fox’s sardonic approach offers a different viewpoint from the expected with a chilling perspective.
Tibbets masterfully showcases the sass and style of Chicago’s signature tune, All That Jazz, artfully strutting to the provocative moves choreographed by Fisher. The choreography, in fact, is a major plus in this production, merrily accentuating a number such as Coffee in a Cardboard Cup, with all the performers moving in increasingly brisk fashion as their caffeine levels accelerate, or the affecting ballad Marry Me from The Rink.
Hale can belt out a number in an old-fashioned chanteuse style and does so here with great success. Long sprinkles comedy into a number of her bits, such as a homemaker who slyly spends her days with a dashing young man in the number, Arthur in the Afternoon, while the agile Ingram and smooth Merideth provide suitable contrast on several numbers, including the hauntingly moving ballad I Don’t Remember You.
The program itself is a bit problematic as some songs listed weren’t performed on opening night. Nonetheless, the cast’s considerable energy and theatrical flair under Coffield’s reassuring guidance keep this revue humming along at a high entertainment level, although it bogs down somewhat in the second act with too many pensive ballads.
Music director Stephen Neale’s expert three-piece band, situated on stage, adds the musical accompaniment needed to enhance this engaging show, and Emily Gaither dresses the players in some stylish evening wear for the ladies or casual duds for the informally attired Ingram. Lighting and set designer Seth Jackson bathes the stage in a variation of shades to reflect different moods, whether the dark spirit of Money, Money from Cabaret or the frantically upbeat tempo of Coffee in a Cardboard Cup.
Despite a few flaws that can confuse a viewer with the program and the overly languid second act, And the World Goes ‘Round offers plenty of pizzazz and musical power to generate the ample energy that emanates from these players.
Musical: And the World Goes ‘Round
Group: Insight Theatre Company
Venue: Heagney Theater, Nerinx Hall, 530 East Lockwood
Dates: June 21, 22, 23, 24
Tickets: $25-$30; contact 556-1293 or brownpapertickets.com
Rating: A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.
Photos courtesy of John Lamb