Before beginning this review, let me get the conjunctions straight! The original song, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, were written for Liza Minnelli to sing in the 1977 film “New York, New York” and was titled “BUT The World Goes ‘Round.” The original title of this 1991 musical revue, based on their extensive catalogue of show tunes, was “AND The World Goes ‘Round.” The show ran off-Broadway and won a Drama Desk Award and a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical Revue. The song and dance arrangements featured five actors in solo, group, and various combinations. In 1992, a ten-month US tour was initiated, new set and tech features added, and the title once again changed to “The World Goes ‘Round.” More importantly, the new, revised show featured comic and other material from Kander and Ebb’s lesser known Broadway shows. The revue has become a staple in regional and community theaters. Since Kander and Ebb continued to write new material over the years, the content of the show may be changed with permission. This latest production was previously staged at Olney Theatre Center and reviewed in this publication (read here). Olney, Everyman, and ArtsCentric are co-producers.
…one of the most satisfying and enjoyable musical evenings I have ever experienced.
The five actors in this current production are Natascia Diaz, Kevin S. McAllister (who also directed), Harris Milgrim, Salome B. Smith, and Karen Vincent. The vocalists and the musical arrangements in Broadway revues do not often reflect the characters or scenes in which the songs were performed in the original stage productions or film adaptations. Such is the case here, to marvelously good effect. Each singer or group of singers makes each song memorable, allowing it to stand on its own and tell a story without the framework of a musical to explain content—a song so popular it can stand alone from a score. All the Great American Songbook composers and lyricists, Kander and Ebb among them, wrote such songs, sometimes known as “standards.”
Everyman Theatre has pulled out all the stops for this production with a team of actors and creatives working together to make one of the most satisfying and enjoyable musical evenings I have ever experienced. The multi-talented cast not only sings and dances well, but each song is also well-acted, with expression and movement defining the lyrics in such a way as to make the song a musical story. Many of the songs are blended in a musical stream of consciousness expressing lost and found love, humor, pathos, etc.—the whole range of human emotion and experience. Mr. McAllister and choreographer Shalyce Hemby have made full use of scenic designer Daniel Ettinger’s cleverly uncomplicated set.
The seven-musician orchestra, under the leadership of music director Christopher Youstra, is situated upstage on two levels, sometimes partially or fully hidden by a sliding partition which features a screen. At various points In the show, Kander and Ebb aficionado-performers David Hyde Pierce, Chita Rivera, Karen Ziemba, and Judi Dench each offer a video commentary on his or her experience with Kander and Ebb. The two-level downstage area, the proscenium, orchestra, and screens above the stage are surrounded by light bulbs. On these screens, designer Patrick Lord has projected photos of Kander and Ebb, scenes from their shows, and photos of their Broadway logos, setting the mood for each musical selection. The total effect of designer Aja Jackson’s lighting, including spotlights, is that of a concert experience as well as enhancing the mood for each particular song. Props are kept to a minimum to allow maximum actor movement. The costume changes, designed by Larry Boggs, including absolutely dazzling sequined gowns, with wigs designed by Larry Peterson, are appropriate for each song. There are “specialty” costumes designed by Movenda Kulemeka for a particular song which are spectacular and very amusing. The actors use body microphones and sound designer Matt Rowe has managed to balance their voices with the orchestra evenly—no small feat! Stage Manager Ben Walsh keeps the production moving at a fast pace with one song beginning almost immediately after another ends.
The show opens with the title song, the second act opens with a medley by the orchestra, and the show closes with Kander and Ebb’s most popular song, “New York, New York” sung first in Swahili, Italian, Polish and Yiddish, and then in English as the audience is encouraged to sing along. John Kander, now 96, just launched his latest Broadway musical with co-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda: the new show, titled “New York, New York,” is based on the 1977 film! But never mind—New York and Broadway have come to Everyman Theatre in full force! I hope the success of this production encourages Everyman not to wait until the world goes ‘round to produce and present more musical events.
Running Time: Two hours with one 15-minute intermission.
“The World Goes Round” runs through July 2, 2023 at Everyman Theatre, 315 W. Fayette Street, Baltimore MD 21201. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at 410-752-2208, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday or visit the website here. Masks are optional.