If you ask me…

- Tom Holehan

A New Venue for MTC Highlights Revue

The best news coming out of the Music Theatre of Connecticut right now is their exciting new venue! The plucky Norwalk stage troupe, which recently opened their 28th season, have moved from their former Westport space (about the size of an comfortable living room) to a new, 110 seat thrust stage that resembles a mini Long Wharf Theatre. It is a vast improvement over the company’s previous home keeping the intimacy but gaining new space that should allow the group to flourish. Congrats to Executive Artistic Director Kevin Connors and Managing Director Jim Schilling for taking this next big step so successfully.

Connors and company have selected a splendid musical revue, “And the World Goes ‘Round”, as the debut production to open this new venue and it’s an excellent choice. Comprised of popular works by the team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, the revue offers a string of showstoppers from such hit musicals as “Chicago”, “The Act” and “Cabaret” as well as selections from film (“Funny Lady”, “New York, New York”) and television (“Liza with a Z”). The company of five (three women, two men) blends extremely well as an ensemble with a snazzy, jazz-inspired version of the title song from “Cabaret” a particular stand-out. Individually the men fare better with Aaron Young’s vibrant tenor put to good use in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and two lesser known songs from “The Happy Time” including the haunting “I Don’t Remember You”. Eric Scott Kincaid brings fine comic brio to both “Mr. Cellophane” from “Chicago” and “Sara Lee” (“The Act”).

The women (Kathy Calahan, Melissa Carlile-Price and Trisha Rapier) struggle here and there with individual solos but Rapier certainly has the belter chops for the memorable title tune that opens the show. Connors has inserted an unnecessary back story about the actors returning to an old summer stock theatre here, but it only serves to confuse and, fortunately, is dispensed with by midpoint. There are also some sound issues the theatre will need to address (in a venue this intimate do singers really need to be amplified?). The new space does allow choreographer Jeri Kansas far more variety and designer Michael Megliola has a lighting system now that was able to provide all the bells and whistles a revue of this sort requires.

Under musical director David John Madore, the harmony of the quintet can’t be faulted especially on numbers like “The Money Song” or a pair of lively ditties from “70, Girls, 70”: “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup” and “Yes”. The whole show has a celebratory feel about it and that seems most appropriate given MTC’s inviting and most welcome new digs. Good job!

“The World Goes ‘Round” continues at the Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue in Norwalk, Connecticut through November 23. For further information or ticket reservations call the theatre box office at 203.454.3883 or visit: www.musictheatreofct.com.

Tom Holehan is one of the original founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

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