BWW Review: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS Charms the Crowd at The Alley
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS is currently running at the Alley Theatre through April 3. The comedy was adapted by Playwright Mark Brown, based on the 1873 novel by Jules Verne, and the production is directed by Mark Shanahan. The story is about Phileas Fogg's attempt to circumnavigate the globe within eighty days as a result of a wager with members of the London-based aristocratic group, the Reform Club.
The feel-good family friendly show is fast paced, well-performed, and will have you laughing out loud. The show is full of wit, quips, and charm. Todd Waite is Phileas Fogg, the wealthy nobleman who accepts the wager of journeying around the world in eighty days. Waite, in his 15th season as an Alley Company Artist, is witty, charming, courageous, and daring as he travels across countries and oceans, and as he encounters exciting characters. His presence, as always, commands the stage and seems to effortlessly carry us through the invigorating story line. Waite is well-supported by an equally amazing cast with impeccable comedic timing and skillful improvisation. Evan Zes is the high-energy and hilarious French valet, Passepartout. This is Zes's debut on the Alley stage, and he delivers a knockout performance. Passepartout is quick on his feet, and is consistently looking out for the best interests of his master.
Emily Trask plays various characters but was most notable as Aouda, the Indian ingenue and Fogg's love interest. She's nearly sacrificed by a tribe of hindu monks, but Fogg and Passepartout take notice of her impending doom and rescue her. Trask is wonderful. She is beautiful and graceful as Aouda one second, and slinging guns, confident, and powerful the next. Jeffrey Bean plays eight different characters but primarily portrays Detective Fix. Bean once again has the audience in stitches, like he did in this season's ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS. He invites the crowd deeper into the story through improvisation and interaction with the audience. It enhances the storytelling, and it makes for hysterical entertainment. Jay Sullivan played a wide variety of characters, each with different dialects, accents, movement, and costume pieces. Sullivan shines in this play, as he dashes on and off stage, and dives into each character with uncompromising commitment.
The minimal set was beautifully designed by Hugh Landwehr, and features an aged map on the stage floor, and a grid resembling the axis lines of the globe on the backdrop. A metal steampunk structure arches above the stage which frames the comedy. Translucent pane sliding doors line the upstage area and was effectively used for backlighting and additional entrance/exit points. The sound design was by Pierre Dupree, while the live music and sound effects were well-executed by Brittany Halen and Bradley Dean Whyte.
The show has memorable performances and is supported by Alley's well-known high production quality. The show will close in less than a week, and it's one that you do not want to miss this season. Don't forget to bring the kiddos. The comedy is family friendly, so there's no need to find a babysitter if your kids are at an age where they can reasonably sit through a show. AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS is a good time for people of all ages.
MARCH 4 THROUGH APRIL 3
ADAPTED BY MARK BROWN
DIRECTED BY MARK SHANAHAN
SUITABLE FOR GENERAL AUDIENCES, AGES 6 AND UP.
THE RUN TIME IS APPROXIMATELY 2 HOURS WITH ONE INTERMISSION.
JEFFREY BEAN as Andrew Stuart/Detective Fix/Priest/Elephant Owner/Young Parsi/OysterPuff/Rev. Wilson's Servant
JAY SULLIVAN as Gauthier Ralph/British Consul/Director of Police/Priest/Sir Francis/Judge Obadiah/Chinese Broker
EMILY TRASK as James Forster/Newspaperman/Priest/Aouda
TODD WAITE as Phileas Fogg
EVAN ZES as Passepartout/John Sullivan
BRITTANY HALEN as Live Music and Sound
BRADLEY DEAN WHYTE as Live Music and Sound
Scenic Design: HUGH LANDWEHR, Costume Design: ALEJO VIETTI, Lighting Design: JOHN AMBROSONE, Sound Design: PIERRE DUPREE, Dialect Coach: PAMELA PRATHER, New York Casting Director: STEWART/WHITLEY, Stage Manager: MARISA LEVY, Assistant Stage Manager: BRETT ANDERS, Assistant Stage Manager: KRISTEN LARSON, Director: MARK SHANAHAN.