The World Goes 'Round. Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Directed by Jarrad West. Canberra Repertory Society. Theatre 3, Repertory Lane, Acton. canberrarep.org.au. To June 1.
Canberra Repertory Society's The World Goes 'Round is a smashing tribute not only to the shows of John Kander and Fred Ebb but also to the abilities and resilience of this production's director, choreographer and cast.
On opening night, illness meant Samantha Marceddo was unable to perform and director Jarrad West and choreographer Caitlin Schilg had to take to the stage. In some kinds of show this could have been a much worse problem. But this piece is luckily one where there is no dialogue, just a New York bar setting where the mood and ambiance slides cleverly from song to song. If there is a plot it is about the bar's shifting ownership while the staff remain the same.
The resultant team of six was outstanding in their delivery of numbers from the lesser known Kander and Ebb repertoire like Zorba and The Rink and the ones everyone knows like Chicago and Cabaret.
In the opening night's line-up standouts included Julia Walker doing Arthur in the Afternoon (from The Act), a spirited ode to the effects of a toyboy, Isaac Gordon as a gentle Mr Cellophane (Chicago) and Louiza Blomfield's superbly sung and focused take on Cabaret's Maybe This Time.
Joel Hutchings brought power and presence to the title song from Kiss of the Spider Woman. West paired very amusingly with Bloomfield as two jaded characters comparing their lot in life in The Grass is Always Greener (Woman of the Year). And choreographer Schilg strongly put across All That Jazz (Chicago) both in the singing and the dancing.
It was the rollerskating though, especially that from the very stylish Gordon, which threatened to steal the show, although a late surprise from Chris Baldock's solid looking set bid fair to upset that.
That set ably hosts the real and the surreal in this compilation show with good support from Helen Nosworthy's lighting. Overloud sound levels did no one any favours early on but fortunately this settled down. And given the impact of musical director Alexander Unikowski's appearance late in the piece it's possible to wonder if the orchestra might have been more fun visible.
However, the whole show delights so much in the varied skills of the performers that it deserves to be a hit with audiences. And it's also an excellent incentive for someone to revive more of Kander and Ebb's shows other than Cabaret and Chicago. Looks like there's enough roller skating talent round Canberra to revive The Rink.