The World Goes 'Round

Michele Ragusa, Rob Sutton, Rosena M. Hill, Patrick Boyd and Tari Kelly
The Pittsburgh Public Theatre is presenting the Kander & Ebb revue The World Goes 'Round. Conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson, the Lucille Lortel Award-winning Off-Broadway production (under the slightly different title of And the World Goes 'Round) ran for a year, beginning in March 1991 at the Westside Theatre before launching a national tour. Described by critic Frank Rich as a revue that "celebrates all the virtues of the Kander-Ebb catalogue while scrupulously avoiding most of the cloying cliches of and-then-I-wrote anthologies," the show has a free-form song list and an anonymous cast of five performers.

Marcia Milgrom Dodge directs and choreographs, providing quick pacing and a varying amount of staging throughout. The work of John Kander and Fred Ebb is, of course, at the top of the form and of many styles, including comedy songs, ballads and group numbers. A very entertaining evening can be had simply with this material, good singers singing and a good band playing. Having some dance and interaction among the cast for the most part enriches the festivities, but is sometimes unnecessary. The 31 selections presented are drawn (mostly) from more than a dozen stage and movie projects. Some of the material is tremendously well known (including title songs from New York, New York and Cabaret) and other songs are less familiar, though it's often the lesser known gems that are the most enjoyable.

The cast sings in solos, duos and group arrangements. Their voices and terrific and they all have the level of dance and acting talent called for. Some of the arrangements and choreography can't compete with the original stage productions (the aforementioned "Cabaret," "All That Jazz," etc.), but the song "The Rink" offers a humorous and fun bit of skate-ography and Michele Ragusa and Rosena M. Hill's hilarious "The Grass Is Always Greener" is a true comedy showcase, especially for Ragusa's talents. I found the solos to be the most successful, because the material is well chosen and the performers are up to the task. In particular, Rob Sutton is stunning on "I Don't Remember You"; the three women (Ragusa, Hill and Tari Kelly) join for lush harmonies on "There Goes the Ball Game"; Kelly nails "A Quiet Thing"; Hill really delivers on "Maybe This Time"; and Patrick Boyd is a hit with the crowd-pleasing "Sara Lee."

Terrific accompaniment is provided by the orchestra: James J. Germann, R.J. Heid, Joe C. Herndon, Michael Rice, Brian J. Starhurski, Timothy Tucker and John R. Hall. However, at times, even with miked singers, the sound of the orchestra overrides the vocals. Set designer Narelle Sissons and Lighting Designer Kirk Bookman have transformed the thrust stage into a sharp, attractive and functional setting for the piece.

The World Goes 'Round continues at the O'Reilly Theatre through April 5. For performance and ticket information, call 412-316-1600 or visit or the box office.

Photo: Pittsburgh Public Theater

-- Ann Miner

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