By Alexandyr Kent
As a critic, I wish I could say I was above flirting. But I am also human--surprised?--and
capable of recognizing a well-disguised act of pity when I see one.
While I appreciate your sense of charity, Seva May, I offer you a warning,
you standout in River City Repertory's new production of "And
The World Goes Round."
On Wednesday, you opened, "All That Jazz" by locking me in your
spotlight gaze and soliciting me for a dance. If you do that again--with
all apologies to my wife--I just might get off my stool and ruin a
perfectly good evening.
Directed and designed by Patric McWilliams, this musical revue is a bare
bones showcase for talent, plain and simple, and these performers are strong
singers and total team players. Joining May in the ensemble is Dina Bennett,
Jonathan McVay, Don McCoy and Janin Pou (all of which, it needn't
be noted, have more talent in a clipped hangnail than I have in my family
The cast recognizes "And The World Goes Round" for what it
is: a chance to rip into the best Broadway and movie tunes by John Kander
and Fred Ebb. Staged at The Capri Theatre, the floor meanders from an elevated
stage over a dance floor arranged in thrust and through a bar where patrons
sit on stools and sip wine. The show is interactive and loose without being
A live orchestra is tucked backstage, which allows the audience to focus
on the performers, their chemistry and their occasional gestures to the
Some of Stephan DeGhelder's choreography is liberal with the shimmies
and the spanks, but it never stoops to pander. DeGhelder and McWilliams
have pulled together a show that shines light on the character of each song--be
it cutesy, graceful, sultry, silly, bawdy or self-effacing and showy, like
the closing ensemble number, "New York, New York."
Every theatergoer will pick a favorite number or two, but I loved Bennett's
full-bodied embrace of the title number. She's a tantalizing singer
in a lonely spotlight, someone who kind of dares the orchestra to match
her in elegance and soulfulness.
For giggles, I also liked "Coffee in a Starbucks Cup" Originally,
"Coffee in a Cardboard Cup" (1971)--so informs the program--Ebb
updated the number before his death in 2004. Wednesday was the premiere
of the new lyrics and the audience empathized as performers guzzled caffeine
from Venti-sized cups between verses, sped up the pace, jittered out of
control and rued the daily cost of addiction and its draining effect on
It's also hard to forget McVay, the best mover of the group, who
was hilarious as the rump-shaking gigolo in "Arthur in the Afternoon."
"And The World Goes Round" represents a gesture toward lightness
by River City Rep, which has a short but strong history of heaviness. I
like both approaches, especially when the former includes the absurd notion
of me stepping into the spotlight.
Trust me, Seva. Trust me, River City Rep. Trust me, theatergoers. That moment in live theatre would ruin all the fun that you're having.