On your marks for the original amazing race! International City Theatre's 28th season gets off to a flying start with Around the World in 80 Days, adapted by Mark Brown from the visionary, classic adventure story by Jules Verne. For a taste of exotic locales, daring exploits, narrow escapes and great fun, head over to International City Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center between January 25 and February 17, or take in a low-priced preview on January 23 or 24.
It's 1872, and Phileas Fogg—normally the most exact of men who conducts his days on a most precise schedule—agrees to an outrageous wager that puts both his fortune and his life at risk. With his resourceful servant Passepartout, Fogg sets out to circle the globe in an unheard-of 80 days. It's a whirlwind journey filled with danger, romance, secret plots and comic surprises that will keep audiences on The Edge of their seats—until they begin to roll in the aisles with laughter.
"It's a madcap adventure—pure, hysterical fun," says director Allison Bibicoff. "We have five actors playing over 3 dozen parts, and they face everything from stampeding elephants to a raging typhoon to a runaway train. It's an extremely challenging production, and also a chance to be mega-creative."
Those five actors are Mark Gagliardi (original revival cast of Second City's National Lampoon Lemmings), Melinda Porto (Bend in the Road at Pasadena Playhouse, ROOMS: a rock romance at the Chance Theater), Brian Stanton (ICT's Bright Ideas; Is He Dead?; Tom, Dick & Harry; Charley's Aunt), Michael Uribes (The Robber Bridegroom at ICT, Oedipus El Rey at Theatre @ Boston Court) and Jud V. Williford (company member at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Nicholas Nickleby and The Tempest at California Shakespeare Theater)—and they will be stashing energy bars in their make-up kits, because together they will play 39 characters and traverse seven continents in their race to beat the clock.
"I wanted this one to be fun for the audience, and for the actors," explained Mark Brown in an interview. "Sometimes I think actors want to kill me for what I have done. But I sort of knew what was possible for quick changes, and breaking down the fourth wall as well as breaking down time and space throughout the entire show. It's a really fun play, a fun night out at the theater. It's about as deep as a shallow puddle, but it's really fun."
Around the World in 80 Days had its world premiere at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in September 2001, was workshopped at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival in May 2002, and had its Off Broadway premiere in July 2008. Since then, it has literally been produced around the world, from Tauranga, New Zealand to Baridhara Dhaka, Bangladesh. Awards for 80 Days include six Acclaim Awards, two Lillie Stoates Awards, two Connecticut Critics Circle Awards and four Shellie Awards. The New York Times called Around the World in 80 Days "unabashedly theatrical...smart enough to make sophisticated adults laugh out loud and shamelessly silly enough to keep children interested and entertained."
As part of an 80-day countdown to opening night that began on November 6, International City Theatre continues to document the many ways we get around. Adults 18 and older still have time to send in photos of themselves in the process of getting somewhere—anywhere—for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the production. Submitted photos will also be considered for the lobby display. Contestants are urged to have fun; photos may be serious or silly, real or imagined. For more information and to submit photos, go to www.InternationalCityTheatre.com. Contestants must be at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry. All submissions must be received by January 25, 2013.
Jules Verne was a French author who pioneered the genre of science-fiction. He is best known for his novels "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1864), "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" (1870) and "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1873). Verne wrote about space, air and underwater travel before navigable aircraft and practical submarines were invented, and before any means of space travel had been devised. He is the third most translated author of all time, behind Disney Productions and Agatha Christie. His prominent novels have been made into films. Verne, along with H. G. Wells, is often referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction."