BWW Reviews: THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND: THE SONGS OF KANDER & EBB at Music Theatre of Connecticut
Music Theatre of Connecticut opened their 28th season in their new Melissa & Doug Theatre in Norwalk with a re-imagined production of The World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb. This highly enjoyable revue of some of the greatest hits of the creators of Chicago, Cabaret, and Kiss of the Spider Woman is more than just a fascinating trip down memory lane. With a talented cast of musicians and an uber-talented cast of performers, this show will captivate and delight anyone who loves musical theater.
Imaginatively directed by Artistic Director Kevin Connors, with musical direction by David John Madore and choreography Jeri Kansas, the MTC production avoids the pitfalls of many musical revues. This production is set in a summer stock theatre in Vermont, with characters returning for the first time. For the most part, rather than just being a bunch of people standing around singing a bunch of songs, and succumbing to schmaltzy shtick, the characters all have unique relationships and emotional journeys, which allows them to plumb the depths of emotions that underscore the Kander and Ebb musical catalog. It is a relief that songs like "And the World Goes Round," "Colored Lights," and "Mr. Cellophane" do not lose their dramatic edge. It is also a relief to watch real choreography when it comes to numbers like "All That Jazz" and "Ring Them Bells." And the comedy is certainly not lost with numbers like "Sara Lee" and "The Grass is Always Greener."
Admittedly, I loved the first half of the production just a bit more than the second half. In Act One, the performers act out and dance through the songs while highlighting their internal dialogues and interpersonal relationships. At the beginning of Act Two, when the women come out in their sparkly show dresses, and the men in tuxedo pants and pressed shirts, warning flags immediately went up for me, signifying that we were entering the slick show biz danger zone.
What kept it together were the beautiful voices, and strong performances by talented cast members Kathy Calahan, Melissa Carlile-Price, Eric Scott Kincaid, Trisha Rapier, and Aaron Young. An especially touching montage included the songs "We Can Make It," "Maybe This Time," and "Isn't This Better?"
When the first strains of "Cabaret" started, again the warning flags went up, especially with Mr. Kincaid singing, "I used to have this girlfriend known as Elsie..." I wondered whatever happened to Sally Bowles and I braced myself for something awful as the music tempo switched to something that was not quite the "Cabaret" that I know and love. I was more than pleasantly surprised by a vocal swing type version of the song that had such tight harmonies and strong vocals that I could not help but like it.
So by the time the show wound up for the finale performance of "New York, New York" not only was I ready for the big show biz finish, but I wanted to see that kick line, and to see that song treated like the Broadway anthem that it is. I was not disappointed, and I ended up singing along and leaving the theater a very satisfied and happy camper.
The World Goes Round runs through November 23 at the Melissa and Doug Theatre in Norwalk. Tickets range from $30 - $50, with $5 off for seniors and students. Reservations are suggested. Call 203-454-3883 or visit www.musictheatreofct.com for tickets.
Photo: The cast of The World Goes 'Round, running through November 23.