Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Theater Review: The World Goes 'Round -- Music Theatre of CT

 Melissa Carlile-Price, Aaron Young , Tricia Rapier Kathy Calahan, and Eric Scott Kincaid. Photo: Joe Landry.
The World Goes 'Round: The Songs Of Kander and Ebb
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman, David Thompson
What's It All About?
A love letter to the song-writing team of Kander and Ebb who brought us some great musical theater like Cabaret, Chicago, The Scottsboro Boys, Kiss of the Spiderwoman and so many more. Some 27 numbers, including some popular songs like "New York, New York," All That Jazz," "Ring Them Bells," and "Maybe This Time" as well as a number of obscure tunes are performed by five energetic performers (Kathy Calahan, Melissa Carlile-Price, Eric Scott Kincaid, Trisha Rapier and Aaron Young) in an unending number of costume changes (designed by Diane Vanderkroef).

Music Theater of Connecticut's Artistic Director Kevin Connors directs this opener in the theater's new home in Norwalk. Choreography by Jeri Kansas propels the numbers and is featured in a couple of dance breaks. Lighting Design (by Michael Megliola) becomes a character in the number "Mr. Cellophane" featuring Kincaid's talents.

David John Madore music directs the three-man band on top of a three-level stage designed by David Heuvelman.

What Are the Highlights?
  • Well, any time you get to hear Kander and Ebb, that's a highlight. Each song is a lesson in great lyric writing. Consider these from "My Coloring Book":
  • These are the eyes that watched him
    As he walked away
    Color them gray
    This is the heart that thought
    He would always be true
    Color it blue
    These are the arms that held him
    And touched him then lost him somehow
    Color them empty now
    These are the beads I wore
    Until she came between
    Color them green
    This is the room I sleep in
    Walk in and weep in
    Hide in that nobody sees
    Color it lonely, please
Lyric perfection.
  • Madore is exceptional on the piano. 
  • Connors adds some nice body language to enhance the numbers
  • The new Melissa and Doug Theater space is quite a treat.
What are the Lowlights?
  • The selections of songs for the show itself. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the lineup of songs. With all of the great Kander and Ebb selections out there, we are left wondering what some of the songs are (there isn't a song list in the program), who these five people are supposed to be and why Young suddenly is belting about a spider woman.... Connors has inserted a setting of "a summer stock theater in Vermont," but a few lines of dialogue thrown in calling "half hour" and the like don't pull that idea together either. During "How Lucky Can You Get," for example, Carlile-Price appears to be pretty miffed at her male companions, but the reason is completely lost. If there is a story being told about these folks and their relationships while performing at a Vermont theater, I missed it.
  • Really didn't care for the arrangement of "Cabaret" and some of the songs go too long (the show runs two hours plus with an intermission and an extended encore).
  • Annoying, consistent feedback in the sound system
More Information:
The World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander and Ebb plays through Nov. 23 at the new Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave. (Route 1 behind the Jones New York and Nine West Outlet), Norwalk. Performances are Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are $30-$50 ($5 off for seniors/students based on availability). 203-454-3883; www.musictheatreofct.com

-- Lauren Yarger

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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