"The World Goes 'Round" - Kander and Ebb - Worcester County Light Opera Company (Worcester, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: The CAST of the Kander & Ebb revue, "THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND" presented by Worcester County Light Opera Company in Worcester, MA. through December 10, 2023. Photo credit: @karaemilyphotography)


By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“I guess I think of a musical as something in which the music is sort of like the engine of the piece – whether it is in the theatre or in film.”                                               

                                                                                            - John Kander           

“ Life is what you do while you're waiting to die. Life is how the time goes by.”                                               

                                                                                             - Fred Ebb   


Worcester Count Light Opera Company

Presents the Musical Revue

"THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND"

Celebrating Kander and Ebb!


Music and Lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb

Director Elizabeth LaBarre

Music Director Kallin Johnson

Choreographer Kaitlin Ekstrom-Doig

Cast Includes: Nicole Lian, Chris Benoit, Linnea Lyerly, Paula Guilbault, Ryan Sullivan, and Heidi White.

Additional Creative Team:

Producers - Lisa Demake, Sally Holden, Rachel Savage; Stage Manager - Lisa Tierney; Set Designer - Ed Savage; Scenic Artist - Jo Ann Savage; Lighting Designer - Matt Wasser; Sound Designer - Vic Kruczynski 

WCLOC Grandview Ave. Playhouse, 21 Grandview Avenue, Worcester, MA.

Performances: 

December 1, 2023 through December 10, 2023

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)  

TICKETS: 508-753-4383 or visit admin@wcloc.org

COVID 19 PROTOCOLS

Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

Worcester Count Light Opera Company presents a holiday treat without any holidays songs in it with the delightful John Kander/Fred Ebb revue, "THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND" now playing in Worcester.

Celebrating the tremendous collaboration between two giants of Broadway, the show contains a myriad of tunes that are guaranteed to bring s smile to your face regardless of whether or not you are familiar with the included rundown of shows.

In 1962, John Kander and Fred Ebb met through a mutual acquaintance and decided to "test the waters" of songwriting collaboration, not sure what the end result might be.

The end result would be scores for approximately 20 amazing musicals over the course of 60 years. 

The above is a remarkable feat considering Ebb died in 2004

At age 96, Kander is (thankfully) still with us, having just enjoyed working with Lin Manuel Miranda on the completion of the stage adaptation of Kander and Ebb's "New York, New York" in 2023.

With the exception of one show ("Kiss of the Spider Woman") most of the songs featured in "THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND" are from before the 1990s

"New York, New York," "Cabaret," "Chicago," "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "Liza with a Z" are just some of the Kander and Ebb-scored shows you might recognize by name immediately. 

However, show names less familiar (at least these days) would include: "Flora, the Red Menace," "Zorba," "The Happy Time" and "70, Girls, 70" - all charmers but not necessarily Broadway blockbusters.

Yet, that does not matter in the least because the songs chosen for this revue from all the above listed shows are completely worthy of inclusion.

One thing one must keep firmly in mind to best enjoy the experience: Please discard any knowledge of context when it comes to how each of the songs in this revue are "supposed to" play out. 

There is no dialogue in between to help the audience "prepare" for each forthcoming song. So, if you already know the song and its corresponding show, it is not going to play out here exactly as it does in that show. 

If you come to the see the revue and do NOT know any of the songs nor their corresponding shows, you are actually in a much better position to fully enjoy the experience.

In "THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND" all you get is some incredible vocal styling by each performer and some intriguing approaches taken by the arrangers. 

The revue was the result of an early 90s collaboration between director Scott Ellis, choreographer Susan Stroman, librettist David Thompson and David Loud, who created the vocal and dance arrangements.

The show debuted Off-Broadway in 1991 running until 1992 after a whopping 408 performances, going on to win (among other accolades) the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical Revue.

Other shows included in the show's full setlist are "Woman of the Year," "The Rink," "The Act" and the "Funny Girl" sequel, "Funny Lady."

(Photo: Chris Benoit performs the title song from "Kiss of the Spider Woman" as part of the Kander & Ebb revue, "THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND" presented by Worcester County Light Opera Company in Worcester, MA. through December 10, 2023. Photo credit: @karaemilyphotography)

We see a simple set: Four tables. Eight chairs, all set in front of an impressive but relatively basic background. 

All which means that the strength of this show is going to rely solely on the musicians and the ensemble to make sure the content is executed to perfection.

Mission: Accomplished. 

As executed by some of the area's finest performers, accompanied by a dynamite band, this is one show that feels that it is done simply for fun, for the sincere love of song and in celebration of the unparalleled quality of Broadway material that the team of Kander and Ebb gifted to us.

The wisest thing director Elisabeth LaBarre did, as did choreographer Kaitlyn Ekstrom-Doig and music director Kallin Johnson, was to focus on the varied vocal and movement strengths of their ensemble, individually and collectively, and made them shine without trying to imitate the originating source material.

So, what is the final result when all this happens? What happens when you remove context from a Kander and Ebb song? Remove it from what made the song as impactful as it was to its originating show?

What you are left with are songs so strong, so timeless, that they can survive...even thrive...on their own. 

Songs that exist as their own individual stories instead of tools used in propelling along one larger, singular plotline.

There is a wonderful balance between the smaller shows with a higher concentration on the more iconic shows, providing a nice cross-section of the Kander and Ebb catalog. 

(Photo: Ryan Sullivan sings "Mr. Cellophane" from the Kander & Ebb revue, "THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND" presented by Worcester County Light Opera Company in Worcester, MA. through December 10, 2023. Photo credit: @karaemilyphotography)

While not a complete song list, running down by show musical highlights include:

From the show's opener comes “70, Girls, 70” where we are entertained by the hilarious songs, “Yes” and “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup” as performed by the entire ensemble with some extremely cool albeit caffeinated choreography.

From the delightful musical “The Happy Time” we get the show’s title tune and the tender song, “I Don't Remember You” (Chris Benoit).

From “The Rink” we get its title song, “Marry Me,” (Ryan Sullivan) “We Can Make It” (Chris Benoit) and the wonderful “Colored Lights” (Paula Guilbault). 

Next up is the show “Woman of the Year” which provides us with “Sometimes a Day Goes By” (Ryan Sullivan) and “The Grass is Always Greener” (Nicole Lian and Paula Guilbault).

From “Funny Lady” there is “How Lucky Can You Get?” (Nicole Lian) and “Isn't This Better?” (Heidi White). 

(Photo: The CAST of the Kander & Ebb revue, "THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND" ("and all that jazz") presented by Worcester County Light Opera Company in Worcester, MA. through December 10, 2023. Photo credit: @karaemilyphotography)

Then come some of the "one-off" songs:

From “Liza with a Z” there is the hilarious “Ring Them Bells” (Linnea Lyerly); “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (Chris Benoit); “Only Love” from “Zorba,” “A Quiet Thing” from "Flora, The Red Menace" and, from "The Act,” there is the witty “Arthur in the Afternoon” (with all three tunes sung by Heidi White).

We also are entertained by the two biggest shows in this revue: “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” 

There are four great tunes from “Chicago”: “All That Jazz,” (Nicole Lian) “Class,” (Linnea Lyerly and Paula Guilbault), “Mr. Cellophane” (Ryan Sullivan) and “Me & My Baby” sung by the cast.

From “Cabaret” comes three tunes: “Maybe This Time,” (Linnea Lyerly) “The Money Song” sung by the cast with some of the best choreography of the night and, of course, “Cabaret” featuring an inventive, unconventional arrangement and some astounding multi-part vocalizing by the cast.

From “New York, New York” (the 1977 Liza Minelli film, not the new stage production) comes “There Goes the Ball Game,” (Linnea Lyerly, Heidi White and Paula Guilbault) the marvelous belter “The World Goes 'Round” (sung by Nicole Lian) and its title song (thankfully, the "Liza version") sung by the cast during the revue's grand finale.

Speaking of Liza, if it feels her influence is prevalent on many of the songs featured, that is not by accident. If she did not originate a particular song on stage, her influence as a "muse" for Kander and Ebb is certainly felt throughout the entire show. 

One hopes, after seeing the marvelous performances in WCLOC's "THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND," there will be renewed interest in some of the more now-obscure shows featured. 

If you truly wish to explore and enjoy a song and hear how it was sung in its original "context," then it is highly encouraged you seek out the original cast recordings of the shows indicated here. 

In particular, two shows I personally recommend you seek out are: 

"The Happy Time," featuring Robert Goulet in his prime along with iconic character actor David Wayne in a deliciously decadent supporting role. Here is a song NOT included in the revue from "The Happy Time":

"70, Girls, 70," a hilarious comedy which has been revived a few times but which the original cast included the equally iconic character actor Hans Conried.  Here is a song NOT included in the revue from "70, Girls, 70":

One hopes that, for all the aforementioned lesser known shows, some theatre groups might take the risk and bring these shows back to life to be enjoyed on stage once more. Only time will tell.

"THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND" continues at WCLOC in Worcester until December 10th

So, give yourself an early December holiday present this year and see this show. It is an absolute treat and, best of all, something you don't have to gift wrap.

Up next at WCLOC will be the Neil Simon comedy "RUMORS" running from February 9th through the 18th. For tickets and information, contact WCLOC at # 508-753-4383 or visit admin@wcloc.org

Approximately two hours with one intermission 

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 

@MetrmagReviews

@Theatre_Critics 

ABOUT THE SHOW

Filled with humor, romance, drama and nonstop melody, this musical revue is a thrilling celebration of life and the fighting spirit that keeps us all going. 

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.

ABOUT WORCESTER COUNTY LIGHT OPERA COMPANY (WCLOC)

Founded in 1937, WCLOC is Worcester’s oldest active theater company. As a local, non-profit community theater, we depend on the generosity of our members, patrons, subscribers, and donors to help forward the mission of our organization to entertain, inform, and nurture local artists and audiences through the production of high quality, affordable musicals, plays, and children’s educational workshops. A donation to WCLOC allows us to continue to keep tickets affordable for local audiences, helps us maintain and make necessary improvements to our Clubhouse, and supports a full season of memorable theater and educational opportunities.

WORCESTER COUNTY LIGHT OPERA COMPANY
PO Box 51
Worcester, MA 01613
508-753-4383

admin@wcloc.org