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The World Goes ’Round

a Musical Revue
by Music by John Kander; Lyrics by Fred Ebb; Conceived by Susan Stroman, David Thompson & Scott Ellis

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : Jennie T. Anderson Theatre-Cobb Civic Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 5158

SHOWING : October 20, 2017 - November 05, 2017



Enter the world of distinguished and celebrated writing team, Kander and Ebb. "The World Goes ’Round" is a stunning revue of the songbook from the multi-Tony award-winning team, with the original production winning three Drama Desk Awards. Filled with humor, romance, drama and non­stop melody, this title is a thrilling celebration of life and the fighting spirit that keeps us all going. Five individuals find themselves careening through the world of love, babies and coffee. From "Cabaret" to "Chicago," the non­stop hit-parade features unforgettable gems, including “Mr. Cellophane,” “Maybe This Time,” “Cabaret” and “New York, New York,” seamlessly interwoven into a passionate, harmonious, up-tempo evening of musical theatre.

Director Ricardo Aponte
Woman 3 Mary Nye Bennett
Woman 1 Deborah Bowman
Ensemble Cansler McGhee
Man 1 Jeff McKerley
Man 2 Brad Raymond
Woman 2 Adrianna Trachell
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A Failing Grade in Chemistry
by playgoer
Monday, October 23, 2017
In addition to good songs, good voices, and good production values, a musical revue needs to have some cohesiveness in the cast. Even if songs are mostly solos, as in "The World Goes ’Round," the cast members need to make some connections as the show goes on. Otherwise, the whole thing becomes an extended song recital. And that’s what Atlanta Lyric’s production of "The World Goes ’Round" becomes under Ricardo Aponte’s direction.

Kander and Ebb wrote a lot of ballads, and their placement in "The World Goes ’Round" is primarily as sequential solos that are supposed to comment subtly on one another. This backfires in a sequence that follows Brad Raymond’s rich, operatic voice in "I Don’t Remember You" with Jeff McKerley’s comparatively thin and second-rate voice in "Sometimes a Day Goes By." By contrast, Mr. McKerley’s voice blends nicely with Deborah Bowman’s in the overlap between her "Only Love" and his "Marry Me." The only duets in the show, "Class" and "The Grass Is Always Greener," show nice interplay between Mary Nye Bennett and Ms. Bowman, in the only evidence of chemistry in the show.

The best up-tempo numbers in the first act feature Matthew Peddie’s excellent props: cardboard cups in "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup," Sara Lee boxes in "Sara Lee," bottle and glasses in "Class," and a baby stroller and toys in "Me and My Baby." In the second act, the special elements added to numbers seem cheap and cheesy: jangling bracelet and anklet bells in "Ring Them Bells" (which is performed phenomenally well by Mary Nye Bennett, the only cast member not encumbered by bells, and features delightful lip-syncing by the others as Ms. Bennett’s voice imitates people in the song’s story), and trench coats with a few currency bills inside and light-up hats in "Money, Money." The roller-skating sequence also falls flat.

Mr. Aponte has cast four ensemble members to do the heavy lifting in the choreography, while the singers mostly sing and move, rather than dance. In the opening number, we see some actual lifts, as the graceful Grace Joo goes skyward. Mr. Aponte has highlighted the chunkiness of fellow dancer Chloe Cordle, though, as her partner studiously avoids anything approaching a lift. Cansler McGhee and Brian Jordan, as the male dance partners, do excellent work all around.

S. Renee Clark has done her usual good work in music direction, although the soprano melody line occasionally gets lost in some of the more massive choral numbers. Sound balance between the six-piece band and the singers is usually good, although some amplification distortion occurs. At the performance I attended, sound for the opening number seemed to come primarily from a speaker at the side of the stage; the amplification was toned down subsequently. The band sounds good overall, but I thought I detected a few iffy notes from the reeds from time to time.

Lee Shiver-Cerone’s set is serviceable, no more. Red platforms and steps descend to the stage floor, with the band behind. Brick-style walls with large sconce insets flank the stage. Hanging above it all is a conglomeration of logos from 12 of the 13 shows whose songs are featured in "The World Goes ’Round." For some unknown reason, "Zorba" is omitted. These logos fly away at the end for a reveal at the finale. Bradley Bergeron’s lighting design illuminates various sections of the stage for various scenes, frequently changing the color of the sconce insets to add visual pizzazz. During the entr’acte, when these insets start cycling through their colors and lights start flickering around the band, it’s distracting and unpleasant. At the performance I attended, the whole cast was left briefly in the dark in the middle of the closing number, "New York, New York."

Amanda Edgerton West’s costumes are unremarkable on the whole. There’s a nice filigreed black cape for the dancer in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," but the dance sequence itself is distracting. There’s a lack of cohesiveness in the costume design that mirrors the lack of cohesiveness in the cast. Jeff McKerley adds his trademarked comic shtick, with hard-edged Deborah Bowman gamely trying to add some of her own. Brad Raymond and Mary Nye Bennett both impress with their tremendous voices, and Mr. Raymond shows occasional touches of vocal comedy, but they barely seem to be on speaking terms to judge from their lack of interaction onstage. Adrianna Trachell, who is given practically nothing to do in the first act, seems to have good musical comedy chops, but isn’t really given a chance to shine. Even her second-act numbers seem to keep her removed from the rest of the principals, although she does interact well with the ensemble.

Kander and Ebb’s songs have highlighted a number of movies and Broadway shows, including many after "The World Goes Round" was first devised. These are good, professional songs, but the revue’s over-reliance on pining love ballads gives it a down-tempo feel that the lack of chemistry among cast members underlines. There is some excellent work to be seen (and especially heard), but Ricardo Aponte’s production seems to be mired in the unremarkable. "How lucky can you get" in attending this show? Not very. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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