Back to show

Songs are brought to glorious life by five wonderfully talented singer-actors

“Flora, The Red Menace.” “The Rink.” “The Happy Time.”

Unless you’re a big theater buff, those three show titles may not be familiar to you. But if I mention “Chicago,” “Cabaret” and the film “New York, New York,” you may think of John and Fred – better known by their last names: Kander and Ebb.

Their prolific partnership as composer and lyricist resulted in a plethora of songs that stand on their own, ranging from humorous to romantic to tear-jerking and everything in between. More than two dozen of their songs are brought to glorious life by five wonderfully talented singer-actors in the musical revue “The World Goes ’Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb,” now playing through Nov. 7 at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

This COVID-abridged version of the off-Broadway show “And The World Goes ‘Round” – yes, they cut the first word of the title and some of the songs to fit a 90-minute, no-intermission format – gives each of its performers plenty of chances to shine.

Tony-nominated director-choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge has taken this early ’90s off-Broadway revue and creatively adapted it to acknowledge the pandemic’s effect on theaters in 2020 and 2021. When Broadway veteran Allison Blackwell strolls down one of this theater-in-the-round’s aisles with her luggage to start the show, she’s wearing a mask and entering a pretty bare stage: there’s a drooping fly system, an unlit ghost light, a steamer trunk, a handful of toppled chairs, a three-step staircase, and a piano angled down with half of it seemingly below the stage.

When Allison removes her mask and sings the lyrics to the title song – “Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces, but that doesn’t matter at all; take it from me – there’s still gonna be a summer, a winter, a spring and a fall” – you feel the sadness of all actors who haven’t been able to entertain a live audience, but also the joyful anticipation of theaters reopening safely. After that opener comes to its powerful climax, her four colleagues enter, and Allison erupts with a joyful shout: “WE ARE BACK!” Most of us in the audience had similar feelings.

Treated to numerous costume changes (costume designer Sully Ratke’s creations are memorable) and the temporary addition of various set pieces and props (including a shopping cart full of Sara Lee dessert boxes that my sweet tooth envied), audience members gave a loud round of applause to each song’s interpretation. The lack of a connecting plot wasn’t a problem; it just meant that the revue could go off in any direction – from the introspective “Colored Lights” by Meghan Murphy, a past Jeff Award nominee for a Marriott “Mamma Mia!” production, to the funny, flirty infatuation of Amanda Rose jumping in the arms of “Arthur in the Afternoon.”

Rose and Joseph Anthony Byrd are also very talented dancers, ably showing that skill in “Shoes Dance.” Byrd’s “Mr. Cellophane” performance will bring back all of your memories of the show “Chicago,” while your heart breaks for his unnoticed character (“ … look right through me, walk right by me … never even know I’m there”). Jeff Award winner Kevin Earley, who’s acted at the Marriott multiple times, spins a web of mystery with “Kiss of the Spider Woman” from the Kander & Ebb musical of the same name.

If you’re thinking that you don’t recognize some of the song titles, don’t let that keep you away. The hits are also present – from “All That Jazz” to “Maybe This Time” to “Cabaret” and “New York, New York.” Allison, Meghan, Amanda, Joseph and Kevin – supported by a live seven-piece orchestra – bring their own powerful, emotion-filled, and fun personalities and voices to each song.

So before the world goes ’round on its axis another time, bring your face mask – and your proof of COVID-19 vaccination or appropriate negative test (yes, they’re required) – to the Marriott. Revues this good don’t come ’round very often.