And The World Goes ‘Round
I’ve seen my fair share of musical theatre shows, but I can’t say I’ve seen many musical reviews. A very different creature the “musical review” with song after song after song from this musical and that compared to the more often performed musical with song and story. Be Wild About Music in association with The NoHo Arts Center is currently presenting And The World Goes ‘Round, a musical review featuring the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb through March 10th.
It’s an intimate space. The stage holds a piano and a bar counter. A man comes out and seats himself at the piano and begins to play and sing, you guessed it, “And the World Goes ‘Round”. Well, he does a few things before. There are some flickering lights that he notices while taking a small stroll and there’s a disappearing sign that appears again later. There is another musician who enters and hides behind the bar counter until his time to join in on percussion. It’s not the most compelling beginning of a performance… but as soon as Joshua Eli Kranz (musical director) starts to play, I’m interested.
The ensemble consists of five talented performers: Erica Hanaran-Ball, Isaac James, Emily King Brown, Ryan Ruge, and Kristin Towers-Rowles. They went from song to song… sometimes singing as a group with a bit of fairly cheesy, dance-y staging, to solos or duets. Some songs were heartbreaking, some cute and funny and almost all completely unfamiliar. Kander and Ebb. How many musicals can you name from Kander and Ebb? Yes, there’s Chicago and Cabaret. You know songs from those. There’s Kiss of the Spider Woman. You know a song from that show. How about 70, Girls 70? The Rink? The Act? Or Flora, The Red Menace? I haven’t heard of them either. Arguably it would be more fun to tap your toes to familiar favorites, but something I did enjoy was the fact that I could hear the words being sung. There’s nothing worse than not being able to decipher the words to the song being sung. These singers were great enunciators. And this is a very good thing when hearing a bunch of songs for the first time, let me tell you.
As I said, the cast was talented. Their singing was lovely. They each had very different styles which often times worked brilliantly in their solo acts but didn’t always when their voices needed to blend in perfect harmony. There were big musical-y theatre performances by some and more subtle performances by others. It was a mixed bag… but all in all, I didn’t mind it so much. Maybe the big 500-seat performances could have been brought down. I think this particular theatre sat around 49.
The staging was the least successful aspect for me. Director Gary Lee Reed could likely have used a good choreographer at his side, but he did draw out some touching and emotional performances from these singers and that was noticed and enjoyed.
Overall, I was pleased but the evening seemed to be fundamentally missing something for me. In all seriousness, I’d say that cocktails would fill the void. I believe this show was produced in the wrong venue. These songs and performances need to be relished in a bar, where the patrons can sip a martini while reflecting on “Mr. Cellophane” or give a toast after “All that Jazz.” Little tables, a slight hustle and bustle back and forth to the bar, moments of silence when a particularly powerful song comes to an end, and the clink of two glasses that meet. That’s what this show… and possibly all musical reviews need. So you didn’t hear it from me, but… bring a flask.
NoHo Arts Center – Stage 2
11136 Magnolia Blvd
No Hollywood, CA 91601
Fri, Sat @8pm
$28 General Admission (or less on discount sites)