John Kander and the late Fred Ebb were a top-of-the-heap musical theater team, turning out enduring smashes like Chicago and Cabaret, working gems into their scores for Kiss of the Spider Woman, Woman of the Year, The Rink, the movie New York, New York – well, many Broadway shows and a few film projects. Some of their finest songs were written with the voice of Ebb’s muse, Liza Minnelli, in mind.
The World Goes ‘Round, a 1991 revue of their work assembled by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson, showcases Kander and Ebb’s range, from sardonic songs to romantic ones, from explorations of loss to expressions of hope. Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs is revisiting the piece, which it first presented in 1998, with a fresh young cast and staging by director-choreographer Dave Campbell.
With deft onstage accompaniment by musical director-pianist Dave Nagy, bass player Rupert Ziawinski and drummer Roy Fantel, three women and two men largely deliver the musical pleasures, laughs and razzle-dazzle moments that The World Goes ‘Round demands. Oh, there are cheesy, overblown interpretations, one notably from the over-miked Jerome Doerger on Kiss of the Spider Woman, another from the otherwise fine Laura Lacara on the 1962 Barbra Streisand hit My Coloring Book. But mostly, The World Goes Round becomes an enjoyable two-hour experience that seems to fly by.
Campbell gets his cast dancing too, showcasing Liz Fallon and Matthew Montana in work that doesn’t look as quite as effortless as it should in the space circled by Tim Webb’s backdrop set, which references Kander and Ebb’s music-and-words collaboration. The incorporation of Bob Fosse-style choreography on All that Jazz doesn’t work either, as no one quite pulls off Fosse’s signature moves.
The five singer-actors change costumes frequently, sometimes looking great, as in the blue-toned outfits they wear at the end of the show. But some of the costumes provided for the women by Raquel Carles are unflattering or ill-fitting. Performing is challenging enough. An actress shouldn’t have to sing while doing battle with an ascending underskirt or a top that rides up to expose her dance panties.
Erin Pittleman delivers many of the revue’s highlight moments. They include the longing-filled memory song Colored Lights, two terrific duets with Lacara (on Class from Chicago and The Grass Is Always Greener from Woman of the Year) and the cleverly comic Ring Them Bells. Lacara shines on Maybe This Time from Cabaret, Fallon on A Quiet Thing from Flora, the Red Menace. Both guys have strong voices, and the five-performer blend is truly fine. But in terms of getting this World spinning and mining its delights, the Stage Door production is powered by its women.