The World Goes 'Round
by David A. Rosenberg
Welcome, Music Theatre of Connecticut! Now in its 28th season, the company’s move from a space that was cramped and seedy in Westport to an expansive, attractive one in Norwalk might give a boost to a town notably lacking in professional theater. Their first offering, the 1991 John Kander – Fred Ebb revue, “The World Goes ‘Round,” is a cheerful affair, featuring five friendly performers.
They have good material with which to work. Kander and Ebb wrote emotional and comical music and lyrics for smash hits like “Cabaret” and “Chicago,” as well as for the lesser “The Act” and “The Rink.” Two of their final collaborations (Ebb died ten years ago), “The Scottsboro Boys” and “The Visit,” are among their finest works, but are not represented in this revival.
At MTC, once a misguided attempt at plot (something about actors returning to past glories) is quickly discarded, the resulting evening becomes a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. It’s like reminiscing with old friends, albeit ones who can sing. And sing they do, wistfully and wittily, everything from show tunes like “All That Jazz,” “New York, New York” and title numbers from “Cabaret” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman” to novelties like the giddy “Ring Them Bells” and the funny “The Grass is Always Greener.”
The one thing they don’t do well is dance. Perhaps hampered by Jeri Kansas’ cliched choreography, the performers clunk their way through various terpsichorean styles. Yet they make up for all that with distinct personalities and gobs of vocal talent.
Trisha Rapier, a leading lady Marin Mazzie lookalike, is particularly striking in the hilarious “Class” and appealing in “Maybe This Time.” Kathy Calahan is the pert one, Melissa Carlile-Price the glamorous one -- both fine. The men are Eric Scott Kincaid, so excellent in MTC’s “Cabaret,” who here turns “Mr. Cellophane” into a lament for all schnooks, while tall, blonde Aaron Young adds touches of slyness to his “Marry Me.”
Kevin Connors directs with a knowing hand for variety in groupings, while the three-man combo of piano, bass and drums lends stout support. Although the sound system could be improved (many lyrics are lost), other technical aspects -- set, costumes, lighting -- add to the festive atmosphere.