No matter what happens in our insignificant little lives, the Earth keeps turning.
That’s the theme of Theatre UCF’s The World Goes ‘Round, a 31-song revue that takes the audience through an up-and-down roller coaster ride of tears, triumph and laughter. The show, conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson, is a tribute to the music of John Kander and Fred Ebb, who collaborated on 20 musicals over the course of 50 years. Kander and Ebb’s most popular musicals include Cabaret, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman.
The World Goes ‘Round features five student performers who work separately, together and sometimes against each other throughout the two-act show. They performed on a simple stage with a curved series of walls lined with lights that changed colors to reflect the mood of each song. The set, designed by Vandy Wood, was visually interesting yet simple enough to allow the music to take control. The instrumental backing for the performers, which was led by Susan Glerum, supported the actors well without overpowering them.
The show was full of standout performances. Benjamin Walton excelled with a marvelously funny performance of “Sara Lee” and an appropriately sheepish “Mr. Cellophane,” while Lauren Abel embraced her sexuality in vivacious renditions of “Arthur in the Afternoon” and the iconic “All That Jazz.”
In the second act, Hayley Scott and Jenny Tocky worked their surprising chemistry in “The Grass is Always Greener.” Scott delivered a touching version of “My Coloring Book” and Nick Drivas sounded somewhat like a young Josh Groban in his powerful performance of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and embodied the show’s funniest role in “Pain,” which will have you in stitches. “Class,” a duet sung by Abel and Tocky, was another peak of humor in the revue. Although not every song fit each performer perfectly, the musical journey was very strong overall. Some of the actors from time to time experimented with the songs and imbued them with their own personalities, which worked in most instances, but not in all. Plus, there were a few slip-ups with lyrics and choreography at the performance I saw.
Regardless of its flaws, The World Goes ‘Round impressed with its diverse array of characters and songs. Although the show was a bit long, it has enough variety to remain interesting throughout. If you’re looking for a show with a compelling storyline, The World Goes ‘Round isn’t for you. If you want to sit back and enjoy the most iconic songs from some of the most popular musicals ever written, it’s certainly worth your time.
Alex Storer is a junior theatre studies major at UCF.
Alex Storer is the Entertainment Editor of the Central Florida Future. You can reach him at AlexanderS@centralfloridafuture.com.