The World Goes Round, now playing through November 7 at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, is a very enjoyable musical revue. I’m not always a fan of revues, but in the capable hands of director/choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Marriott’s The World Goes Round is an emotional thrill ride of amazing voices singing the best of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb.
Primarily known for such Broadway blockbusters as Cabaret and Chicago, the songwriters also dabbled in writing the score for such movies as New York, New York. Other Broadway successes include Woman of the Year, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Curtains.
The World Goes Round is Marriott Theatre’s first foray into live performance since COVID-19 shuttered performance venues across the country. To mark the occasion, Dodge has reimagined the premise of the show – placing it in a time just like ours, with five friends returning to reopen a beloved theater after it has been closed for two years due to widespread illness.
The cast members enter the theater in masks, reflective of the timeliness of this unique interpretation of some of Kander and Ebb’s most beloved classics. Although the cast members remove their masks, the audience remains masked the entire time, and proof of vaccination is required for entry. The production is presented with a run time of 90 minutes and no intermission.
Allison E. Blackwell is the first to enter the theatre, with an amazing minimalist set by Christopher Rhoton. Blackwell perfectly sets the tone for the evening with a soulful rendition of “And the World Goes ‘Round”. Blackwell’s lusty voice harkens memories of Aretha Franklin, and her charisma permeates ever inch of airspace in the intimate venue.
Joseph Anthony Byrd is a standout in every moment on stage. He has a gentle voice that blends well in five-part harmonies and draws the audience in during solo moments. Byrd is at his best in “Mister Cellophane.”
Originally conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman, and David Thompson, The World Goes ‘Round intelligently does not try to recreate the Kander and Ebb shows it lifts its musical numbers from, but rather makes them work together to tell a new story.
Amanda Rose is a beacon of light when on stage. She is the center piece to a tribute to choreographer Bob Fosse with the number “All That Jazz” – one of the best numbers in a show filled with award-worthy performances.
Kevin Earley is everything a leading man should be – tall, handsome, a good dancer, and a voice from the heavens. You can get lost in the unadulterated lyricality of his deep resonant voice. Earley’s performance of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” is truly awesome.
Megan Murphy could easily get away with getting by on her good looks and gorgeous figure, but she has a remarkable voice and superb comedic chops that make her an audience favorite anytime she takes the stage. Murphy’s rendition of ‘Colored Lights’ from The Rink is sinfully good.
While the evening’s entertainment includes some passionate and endearing songs, there are also some playful numbers that benefit from some of Dodge’s fun and creative choreography and the ensemble casts’ willingness to get silly. The songs “Sara Lee” and “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup” are examples of the performers making an otherwise unremarkable song the pinnacle of entertainment just from the energy they inject.
The five-person cast of Marriott’s The World Go ‘Round provide nonstop enjoyment that spans the full range of human emotions from desperation to celebration. With a remarkable cast armed with a mixture of standard and reimagined orchestrations, a second-to-none orchestra, and brilliant direction and choreography, The World Goes ‘Round is the perfect excuse to go back to the theater.
Patti Garwood deserves high praise for her musical supervision and conducting of the orchestra, as does Ryan T. Nelson for overall music direction. Costumer Sully Ratke does a standout job of making each number have its own look and feel and really accentuating the best features of the individual performers. Ratke knows how to make people look their best.
The World Goes ‘Round plays Wednesdays through Sundays at Marriott Theatre (10 Marriott Drive in Lincolnshire) through November 7. For ticket information visit www.MarriottTheatre.com or contact the box office at (847) 634-0200.
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