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Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

The World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb
Music Theatre of Connecticut

Also see Zander's review of A Walk in the Woods and Fred's review of Wicked


Melissa Carlile-Price, Aaron Young, Kathy Calahan, Eric Scott Kincaid, and Trisha Rapier
Featuring over a dozen songs, Music Theatre of Connecticut's new production of The World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb proves to be a highly entertaining evening of theatre. Directed with a sure hand by Kevin Connors, each member of this talented cast gets at least one or two chances to shine individually, and also functions dazzlingly as an ensemble. This is how it should be, considering John Kander and Fred Ebb formed one of the most distinctive and "razzle dazzle" composing teams in Broadway history. This revue first premiered Off-Broadway in 1991, and was conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman, and David Thompson, and its charms are still highly apparent. Indeed, the show should please those who know all the songs, as well as newcomers to the Kander & Ebb catalog of show tunes.

One of the strongest assets of this production is the cast of three women and two men, all of whom are pretty spectacular. The evening starts off with the title song, and the zesty Trisha Rapier belts it out with a force that could raise the roof. This actress proves that she can also be quite touching with such songs as "My Coloring Book" and "Maybe This Time," as well as pretty saucy in the duet "Class," where she is perfectly matched by the sparkling Melissa Carlile-Price. Melissa Carlile-Price also delivers one of the most intense and perfectly acted songs in the show, "Colored Lights," early on in the evening, and finishes the first act off with a strong "How Lucky Can You Get?"

The adorable and quirky Kathy Calahan leads "All That Jazz" with a powerful presence to rival any actress I've seen deliver the number, on stage or screen, in Chicago. She also wins laughs with the funky "Arthur in the Afternoon" and is heartbreaking with a moving "A Quiet Thing."

Resembling a young Joel Grey, Eric Scott Kincaid is quite funny on the "Sara Lee" specialty number and delivers a lovely "Sometimes a Day Goes By." However, he is truly at his best with "Mr. Cellophane," a number that Grey famously sang in the long-running revival cast of Chicago. With the requisite white gloves, Eric Scott Kincaid manages to both pay homage to his predecessor as well as make the song his own. As the other male performer in the show, the good-looking, strong-voiced Aaron Young does wonders with "I Don't Remember You" and the sweet "Marry Me," and delivers a stunning rendition of the title song from Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Many of these songs are closely associated with Chita Rivera and (especially) Liza Minnelli, as well as other stars such as Robert Goulet and Lauren Bacall, but one of the triumphs of this production is that the director and his cast bring such freshness to these famous numbers that they sound newly minted. Also worthy of high praise are costume designer Diane Vanderkroef, whose parade of outfits deserves an ovation of its own, and choreographer Jeri Kansas, who keeps those strutting dance numbers zipping along. Add to that the attractive, minimalist set by David Heuvelman and spectacular lighting by Michael Megliola, as well as a terrific onstage band led by David John Madore, and you have all the ingredients for success.

Kander & Ebb left quite a legacy of beautiful and memorable songs and this show got me wondering whether someone will one day add tunes to this revue, or create a new one, from shows that the composing team wrote post-1991 (such as Steel Pier, Curtains, and The Scottsboro Boys). Still, as it stands now, The World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb at the Music Theatre of Connecticut, with that fabulous cast, proves to be a snazzy and enjoyable evening of song and dance.

The World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb continues performances at the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk, Connecticut, through November 23rd, 2014. For tickets, please visit www.musictheatreofct.com or call (203) 454-3883.


Photo: Joe Landry

- Zander Opper



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