Kander and Ebb’s ‘And the World Goes ‘Round’ Sputters at MTC

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Photo by Joe Landry
Photo by Joe Landry

By Karen Isaacs

Music Theater of Connecticut or MTC as it is more commonly called has moved to a new and  larger location on Route 1 in Norwalk.

The inaugural show is the popular Kander & Ebb revue And the World Goes Round which runs through Nov. 23.

First performed in 1991, the show draws its material from a combination of the musical team’s most popular musicals up to that point — Cabaret and Chicago as well as some lesser known shows — The Rink, The Act, 70 Girls 70, and some material for night club acts and films — New York, New York and Funny Lady.

 Five performers — three women and two men — sing, act and dance the songs which range from sweet love songs to acerbic commentary on life and society.

The original show was conceived and put together by some high priced talent: Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson.  It was a straight revue: no attempt at creating any sort of through-line or characters.

Photo by Joe Landry
Eric Scott Kincaid. Photo by Joe Landry

This production tries to do just that with limited — one might say very limited success.  But the real question is why try?  According to director Kevin Connors, the show is “new and re-imagined.”  It is set in a summer stock theater of the past with the characters returning after a long absence.  They supposedly have “their own interpersonal relationships, emotional journeys, and  inner lives.” The only hint of any of this, is the costumes and the opening when one of the performers comes on carrying a suitcase and the various cast members greet each other.  Oh, and there was an occasional stage manager’s call.  But their “inner life, etc.”? If it existed, they kept it a secret.

This setting might account for the rather old-fashioned costumes. Some seemed very ’50s and others were almost ’40s in look.  The second act dresses for the three women were not only unflattering but made them look like a girl singing group.

Melissa Carlile-Price and Trisha Rapier.  Photo by Joe Landry
Melissa Carlile-Price and Trisha Rapier. Photo by Joe Landry

And why, in a such a small theater, must everything be miked?  Can’t performers nowadays project enough to reach the entire audience?

Of the five performers, Eric Scott Kincaid and Aaron Young are the most successful. The two men not only had some great songs but really put them over effectively — from Aaron’s “I Don’t Remember You” (from The Happy Time) and “Marry Me” (The Rink) to Eric’s “We Can Make It (The Rink), “Sometimes a Day Goes By” (Woman of the Year) and the humorous “Sara Lee” (The Act)

The three women — Kathy Calahan, Melissa Carlile-Price and Trisha Rapier were less successful.  They too often telegraphed the emotions or over-acted the songs and I kept thinking of my vocal teacher’s comment “relax your lips.”  Their performances were often distracting though Carlile-Price and Rapier scored with “Class” from Chicago. Overall Carlile-Price was the best.

 The choreography by Jeri Kansas was fine – but the dance sequence in the middle of the second act seemed to have no point.  It began as a tango using “The Cellblock Tango” from Chicago but it soon changed into something that was hard to identify.

Melissa Carlile-Price and Aaron Young. Photo by Joe Landry
Melissa Carlile-Price and Aaron Young. Photo by Joe Landry

Young, by the way, is a strong dancer and did a good job as the love interest in “Arthur in the Afternoon.”

And the World Goes Round is a terrific show and while MTC’s production has its flaws, it is still an enjoyable evening in the theater.

And the World Goes Round is at MTC (Music Theater of Connecticut),509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk, CT.  For tickets contact 203-454-3883 or http://www.musictheatreofct.com.

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