Thursday, July 12, 2012

The World Goes Around

Delightful THE WORLD GOES ROUND at Porthouse

Musical revues are a collection of songs which are performed as a single production. They usually contain no story-line, per se, but highlight either a theme such as patriotism (e.g., WELCOME HOME: A PATRIOTIC MUSICAL), a person (e.g., WILL RODGERS FOLLIES), a body of work by a performer (e.g., COME FLY WITH ME, the songs of Frank Sinatra), or the writings of a particular song writer or writing team (e.g., SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM).

THE WORLD GOES ROUND is one of the latter, an evening of songs conceived by John Kander (music) and Fred Ebb (lyrics), which were written for their Broadway shows. The duo wrote such hits as CHICAGO, CABARET, FUNNY LADY, and KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN.

For a review to be more than escapist enjoyment, requires a talented cast who can both sing and dance, a fine musical director who can develop strong musical arrangements, and a creative director and choreographer. Fortunately, Porthouse has such a team.

The cast for THE WORLD GOES ROUND, composed entirely of college students, is generally fine. Lauren Culver, who has an excellent singing voice, well interprets And the World Goes ‘Round and Maybe This Time. She, like so many in the cast, sing meanings, not just words, thus making the songs purposeful, even out of the context of the script for which they were written.

Lisa Kuhnen makes Cabaret into a life affirming anthem, while creating a clear story in Colored Lights. Jennie Nasser’s A Quiet Thing and World Goes ‘Round were well sung. Jack O’Brien showcases a fine voice in Sometimes a Day Goes By and displays the right amount of pathetic appeal in Mr. Cellophane.

Sam Rohloff and Nathan Mohebbi display excellent dancing skills. Anastasia Arnold and Lisa Kuhnen are delightful in The Grass is Always Greener. Rohloff, Culver and MacKenzie Duan create a well-blended and compelling medley of We Can Make It, Maybe This Time, and Isn’t This Better. Kyle Kempf showcases a fine sense of humor and timing in Sara Lee.

Other highlights were Yes, All That Jazz, and Me and My Baby.

Musical director Kevin Long not only has his orchestra in good tune, but his arrangements are enveloping.

The star of the show, however, is not seen on stage. The highlight is Sean Morrissey’s creative directing and choreography. Each segment has its own approach. He doesn’t repeat dance moves or styles. The staging is casual yet well honed. The cast interprets songs well in form and word meaning.

CAPSULE JUDGMENT: Musical revues tend not to be my favorite form of theatre. I prefer storylines. But, more productions like THE WORLD GOES ROUND, as directed and choreographed by Sean Morrissey, could make a review lover out of me. Go to Porthouse. Sit back and relax, and let the talented and well directed cast carry you away on a fine musical trip to Kanter and Ebb’s Broadway.