CHATHAM, N.Y. — The colored lights begin spinning early and never stop in director-choreographer Robin Campbell’s deliciously entertaining production of “The World Goes ‘Round,” a revue of the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb, that is playing in rotating repertory with “Beehive” through Oct. 3 at the Mac-Haydn Theatre.
Conceived and created by Susan Stroman, David Thompson and Scott Ellis, “The World Goes ‘Round” offers a wide-ranging sampling, nearly 30 songs in all, by this Tony Award-winning duo. “We wanted to create a show that would give the audience a glimpse into the musical world of Kander and Ebb,” Thompson says in an online description of the show for Masterworks Broadway.
“Our goal was to balance the standards like ‘Cabaret,’ ‘Maybe This Time,’ and the theme from ‘New York, New York’ with other material perhaps not as well known. We wanted songs from the early days of their collaboration … songs that are personal favorites … songs that are quintessential Kander and Ebb … songs that aren’t heard often enough … songs you’re surprised to learn they wrote … . “
The songs have been put into medleys, overlapping duets, solos, ensembles, more often than not creating mini-dramas; mini-plays that cover the full range of human emotional experience with humor, pathos, wit, invention, insight. (Watch, in particular, two “heartache” trios — one involving the songs “My Coloring Book, “I Don’t Remember You” and “Sometimes a Day Goes By,” performed by Amber Mawande-Spytek, William Taiutel and Kylan Ross, and, in the second half “Only Love,” Marry Me” and “A Quiet Things,” performed by Erin Spears Ledford, Ross, and Mawande-Spytek).
Campbell has placed music supervisor/keyboardist David Maglione and the other five members of the show’s band on black risers trimmed in silver — a bandstand that evokes the sophisticated nightclubs of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.
Mawande-Spytek begins the evening from the middle of the bandstand with a carefully calibrated rendition of the show’s title song. And off we go, through an evening that heightens admirers’ appreciation of Kander and Ebb’s work and induces non-admirers to reconsider.
Campbell’s production moves from one number to the next with astonishing fluidity, performed by a richly versatile company of appealing young performers who work with poise, confidence, brio and class. There is nothing classier than the classless Gurland and Mawande-Spytek going at it in “Class” from “Chicago,” or as sublime as Gurland, again, taking lead in the second act opener, “Ring Them Bells.”
Taitel puts his rich vocal tones to exquisite use in “I Don’t Remember You” and “Chicago’s” “Mr. Cellophane.”
No Kander and Ebb evening would be complete without what have become their signature tunes — “All That Jazz,” “Cabaret” and “New York, New York.”
At the performance I attended, those insistent jaunty opening chords for the sassy “All That Jazz” got an “aah” of recognition from the audience long before Ledford sang her first words.
In the hands of the revue’s arranger, David Loudon, “Cabaret” gets a treatment unlike any you have ever heard. Think Lambert, Hendricks and Ross times two.
The finale, “New York, New York,” presents the film’s title song in a treatment that celebrates the Big Apple as an international iconographic melting pot.
Campbell’s production is such a complete, thoroughly fulfilling and satisfying two hours of theater. What a way to end a summer theater season or begin the fall season. Ring them bells!