‘Sometimes you’re happy
And sometimes you’re sad
But the world goes round’
Kander and Ebb may not be a familiar name to all, but their musical theatre scores certainly will be. They wrote the music for shows such as Cabaret, Kiss of a Spiderwoman, Chicago, and penned the theme song New York, New York, made famous by Frank Sinatra. The World Goes Round is a unique show, reviewing and revising the iconic and lesser-known works of this extraordinary pair. The show pays homage to a duo whose contribution to musical theatre is vast and extraordinary.
This version of The World Goes Round at the Union Theatre has all the elements expected from these well-loved shows- effortless voices, sensitive staging, sparkle and panache- but stripped to its bare bones. In this fringe theatre revival, with a single piano as their only accompaniment, five talented individuals put the songs through their paces. In a roller coaster of emotion, the melancholy of Lisa Stokke’s Isn’t This Better? is juxtaposed alongside Simon Green’s thrilling rendition of Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Gareth Snook’s heartfelt Mr. Cellophane. The title song for this musical evokes exactly what the show does to its audience, as it transports them through the highs and lows of life, the happiness and the heartache. Supported by a chorus of five, this small company achieve big things. The sheer talent of the cast is evident, heightened by the intimate venue that permits every note and every turn of the head a spotlight. The simple staging, which alludes to the bright lights of the stages from which these musical numbers originate, it all that is required to facilitate these fabulous show-stoppers.
Emma Francis’ performance of Ring Them Bells, which opened Act II was upbeat and effortless. Her comic timing was super. Susan Fay provided a haunting version of My Colouring Book. Sam Spenser-Lane should be praised for his choreography. He captured the Fosse/Minnelli mood superbly in a small space, complemented by simplistic, yet highly effective lighting choices. Whilst each member shone individually, the cast numbers were particularly enjoyable. The five voices were well matched and did the work of a much larger West End company. Finishing the show with New York, New York, the overwhelming sense of camaraderie between the cast was warming and united the theme at the heart of the show. ‘The World Goes Round’, and we all go round together on it.
Those of you who know the music of Kander and Ebb intimately are provided with an opportunity to spend the evening luxuriating in this iconic musical theatre era. Those of you less familiar with their music can broaden your musical theatre horizons, discovering gems in the Kander and Ebb oeuvre that will stay with you forever. Either way, a reason to go, don’t you think?