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Around the World in 80 Days

a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY CHILDREN
by Adapted by Mark Brown from the Novel by Jules Verne

COMPANY : Theatrical Outfit [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Balzer Theatre @ Herren's [WEBSITE]
ID# 3520

SHOWING : October 14, 2009 - November 08, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The original "Amazing Race," this comedy/adventure, set in 1872, is a high-spirited romp through different continents, cultures and time zones that puts one man's life and fortunes at risk. This production is recommended for all ages.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Clint Thornton
Sound Designer Chris Bartelski
Costume Designer Jonida Beqo
Lighting Designer Jessica Coale
Dialect Coach Kathleen McManus
Props Designer M. C. Park
Hair & Wig Designer J. Montgomery Schuth
Actor 1 and Others James Donadio
Passepartout and John Sullivan Paul Hester
Phileas Fogg Tom Key
Actor 2, Detective Fix and Others Bill Murphey
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Out of the Fogg!
by Dedalus
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
5.0
In the year 2009, Theatrical Outfit made a bold and brazen journey, attempting to circumnavigate the myriad and insurmountable barriers inherent in bringing to theatrical life a presentation of Jules Verne’s classic novel, “Around the World in Eighty Days.” Guided by the roadmap set down by adapter Mark Brown, director Clint Thornton and his band of actor-travelers adopted the tropes of Readers Theater (as made popular by the David Elgar “Nicholas Nickleby” marathon) to complete the journey. That is to say, a cast of thousands has been reduced to five journeyman actors playing multiple characters of all genders and ethnicities, scenery has been reduced to simple “found objects” and conveyances that merely provide a skeletal framework for our imagination’s more complete brushstrokes, and fourth-wall convention has been merrily dispatched to the dustbin of theatrical antiquity.

Not only do Mr. Thornton and his Passepartoutesque cast complete their prescribed journey, but we, the audience, are also given a deeply entertaining, profoundly invigorating voyage in their company. Indeed, I found myself agape at the joy of the journey, and would willingly reside in the company of this troupe for eighty hours, eighty days, even eighty weeks.

To summarize the story, time-sensitive Phileas Fogg has accepted a wager that he can circumnavigate the world in eighty days. Studying the routes and modes of transportation available to him at the time (1873 being the year, he is limited to Rail and Steamer), Mr. Fogg is confident of his ability to win the debt. Accompanied only by his faithful servant Passepartout, he sets out to see the world. In pursuit, though, is the dedicated Police Detective Fix, who, mistakenly or not, believes Fogg to be the perpetrator of a series of London robberies. Along the way, they rescue a Parsi Woman (Aouda) about to be sacrificed, and experience adventure beyond imagination. But, will they return to London in time to win the wager? That, my dear readers, you will not hear from my pen, but must experience the journey yourself in all its glory and imagined spectacle.

And therein lies the key to this elegant and satisfying production. It leaves the spectacle, the “cast of thousands,” the Indians, the Elephants, the Monsoons, the Pirates (well, not really Pirates, but one grizzled old seadog who hobbles and haws like one), the ships and steamers and railroad cars to our imaginations. A blank map on the floor sets the scene, and everything else is achieved by the thorough commitment of the cast and their tightly choreographed costume/character switches. I daresay, there were points I believe they could only achieve their rapid switches through magic (hardly dark) of a supernatural nature – indeed their total immersion in character carried a supernatural air of possession.

In the primary role of Phileas Fogg, Tom Key is all Gentleman and Punctuality, insisting on following his schedule to the second (see footnote below), but generous to those who show him loyalty and assistance. As his heart gradually warms to the friendship of Passepartout and the affection of Aouda, it is a singular achievement of convincing emotional transition. He is the center of this show, and its first reason for success.

Paul Hester brings an equally skillful playfulness to Passepartout, adding a Gallic accent and attitude that plays extremely well off of Mr. Key’s very British crispiality. William S. Murphey, as expected, brings a blind dedication, an almost Javertesque drive to pursuit in his portrayal of Detective Fix, as well as to a passel of other characters (Male and Female). And the father/daughter tag team of James and Kate Donadio bring magic to over a dozen additional roles employing a veritable Babel of language, accent, costume, and gender.

Indeed this cast, this director, this design team are at the peak of their abilities, and this particular foray highlights them in ways that should be the envy of all of us lesser travelers. This is very much a family-friendly event, and it is my sorrow that I did not insist my own progeny forgo her child-diva moment and accompany me. This is a play that strokes your imagination like a pampered pet that leaves its scent on your memory for too many days to count.

In the year 2009, I ventured Atlanta-ward to partake of Theatrical Outfit’s “Around the World in Eighty Days.” In too many ways to count, I have yet to return.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


Postscript:

Phileas Fogg’s Schedule:

London to Suez Rail and Steamer 7 Days
Suez to Bombay Steamer 13 Days
Bombay to Calcutta Rail 3 Days
Calcutta to Hong Kong Steamer 13 Days
Hong Kong to Yokohama Steamer 6 Days
Yokohama to San Francisco Steamer 22 Days
San Francisco to New York Rail 7 Days
New York to London Steamer and Rail 9 Days

TOTAL 80 Days


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