The World Goes 'Round.../conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman, David Thompson/music by John Kander & lyrics by Fred Ebb/directed by Marsha Moode/choreographed by Nathan Wise/Downey Civic Light Opera/through March 3
This is the third production of The World Goes 'Round in and around Los Angeles in the last six months...and another best bet! Sure, it's hard to beat the joyous music of Kander & Ebb, in whatever way it's presented. But this production at DCLO has a style all its own. Though in some ways more traditional than the other two I've seen recently - it plays much like an old-fashioned TV variety show - it has a greatness and a flair... with not only singing and dancing but blending bright anecdotes about the composers - that include delicious personal stories from cast members... and a splendid, splendid cast of 37 actors/singers/dancers, one of the largest casts to do a revue - and it works beautifully thanks to the splendid use of the broad stage by director Marsha Moode, and choreographer Nathan Wise!
The show plays as a show within a show opening up a slew of possibilities for the big cast. John Racca and Joseph Culliton play Kander & Ebb stage left, as they reminisce about their achievements, play what they've composed - "I Don't Care Much" was one of their favorites but was not a part of Cabaret until it was added to the 1987 revival - and watch proudly what they've set to music as the rest of the ensemble perform center stage and stage right. Director Moode wisely plays scenarios for 2 actors stage left or right, leaving center stage for the trios, quartets and larger cast numbers such as "All That Jazz" from Chicago, briskly and copiously choreographed by Wise.
Highlights of the evening: Karen Volpe's dynamically self-choreographed "Ring Them Bells" and fab duet with Charlotte Carpenter on "The Grass Is Always Greener" from Woman of the Year, Victoria Strong's gorgeous "Isn't This Better?" from Funny Lady and "How Lucky Can You Get?", Leslie Tinnaro's "Cabaret" with Strong and Carpenter, and William Crisp's lovely "Mr. Cellophane" with a delightfully surprising exit. The list goes on and on. Hard to believe that Zorba was not a smash, particularly with the uplifting "Life Is" offered here by Tinnaro and company. It's every bit as joyful as "Cabaret". I was equally happy to see "I Move On" written for the movie Chicago as the show's finale where the set comes apart and the actors disband. An intelligent and exciting touch in conceptualizing The World Goes 'Round! And... the music would not go 'round and 'round without great musical director Eddy Clement!
The company includes, besides Culliton, Racca, Strong, Volpe, Carpenter, Tinnaro and Crisp: Andrea Dodson, Glenn Edward, Timothy Hearl, Joshua La Monte, Denai Lovrien, Michael McGreal, Aleesha McNeff, Laura Rensing, Brittany Rodin, Kyle Van Amburgh, Kit Wilson and an ensemble of 19 terrific dancers. Kudos to Elizabeth Bowen for her lovely costumes, particularly all the ladies' black evening attire and to Mark W. Keller for his sidestage design, especially the workspace for Kander & Ebb with posters of all of their shows amply displayed.
This is by far one of the best shows produced by DCLO and a must see for musical theatre aficionados.