BWW Reviews: THE WORLD GOES ROUND - THE SONGS OF KANDER AND EBB, Union Theatre, January 17 2014
There are - and you're going to have to believe me on this one - people who don't like musical theatre. They cite the preposterous plots, the sentimental manipulation, the overwhelming spectacle - and the ineluctable fact that people insist on bursting into song. Okay, those criticisms may not apply to all musicals (and some not at all) but, you've got to admit, those who abhor the sound of music after just a bit too much of The Sound of Music, may have a point.
Take them to the Union Theatre for The World Goes Round - The Songs Of Kander and Ebb (until 8 February). Stripped back to the songs, there are no sets, no dodgy books and no chorus lines to distract, just the genius of melodies and words and their interpretation. Director Kirk Jameson has, wisely, allowed the songs to stand for themselves - there are no introductions with little precis of the shows from which the numbers are taken to stall the pace - the singers just give us the songs.
What emerges is something more than a Now That's What I Call Musicals greatest hits collection. You would expect toe-tapping tunes and witty lyrics from the partnership that gave the world Cabaret and Chicago and plenty more smashes, but you also get something of the essence of the Broadway showstopper. The melodies and the words are simple - as melodies and words - but they wind around each other, as they repeat and as the emphasis builds and fades, to become something so much more than the sum of their parts. Not much to look at on a page, no doubt - but on stage? Wow!
The five main performers draw on a fair few years hoofing it in the West End and elsewhere to give each number its full due. Simon Green, Gareth Snook, Lisa Stokke, Emma Francis and Susan Fay all get a bit of pathos, a bit of comedy and a lot of great material that they belt out (without mics) just a few feet away from the audience. It never looks easy - but it does look fun.
If you love musicals, you'll love the show: and if you hate musicals, well, you'll still love the show.