From October 22 through November 8, the Santa Barbara City College Theatre Group will offer audiences the chance to escape the worries of everyday life with its production of The World Goes ‘Round, a musical revue of songs by the genius Broadway songwriting team, John Kander and Fred Ebb. Rick Mokler, the production chairman of the Theatre Arts Department at SBCC, said he ultimately chose to produce this particular show at the suggestion of SBCC Musical Director David Potter, with whom he has worked for 30 years. Mokler is looking for audiences to “have a fun, uplifting, and ultimately hopeful” experience.
Judging from its contents, The World Goes ‘Round is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It features the music and lyrics of Kander and Ebb, and spotlights songs from Cabaret, Chicago, New York, New York, Funny Lady, and Kiss of the Spider Woman, to name a few. Mokler points out that the Garvin Theatre opened with Cabaret as its very first show in 1978; now, 30 years later, The World Goes ‘Round, another Kander/Ebb masterpiece, will be the last production performed before the theater shuts down temporarily for a remodel. “There’s a nice, full-circle feel,” Mokler explained. Although The World Goes ‘Round is stuffed with classics, one of Mokler’s favorite songs comes from a little-known play called The Rink that centers on the saving of a roller-skating rink. In The World Goes ‘Round, one song from this play is sung as the actors zip around the stage on roller-skates. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Mokler.
While Mokler may be a veteran at producing musicals (“I’ve done lots of musicals, probably 20 or 30. I’ve done everything from big, traditional musicals to more off-center stuff,” he explained), he’s never produced one quite like this. In describing The World Goes ‘Round, Mokler pointed out, “There is no story per se. It’s more like a concert in that there’s no overall dramatic tension. But because there’s no real story, each song has to tell its own story.” This idea is reflected in the costuming for the musical, designed by Mary Gibson. The women will wear cocktail dresses and the men suits, each of which will be further embellished on a song-by-song basis. Mokler explained, “For each song, there’s a piece added that will reflect the character and that song.”
Because there is little overarching plot, The World Goes ‘Round is a production that can showcase many talented performers, not just a few. SBCC Theatre Group productions often involve SBCC students as well as Santa Barbara community members. In The World Goes ‘Round, the Garvin Theatre stage will be filled with 17 singers, actors, and dancers, seven of whom are SBCC students and 10 of whom are members of the community. The stage will also accommodate a live band that will play the show’s catchy tunes.
In collaboration with Mokler and Potter, Michele Spears is bringing the stage to life with her choreography. Mokler explained that there are several numbers that are quite dance-y, including “All That Jazz” from the musical of the same title, and “Money, Money” from Cabaret. “In The World Goes ‘Round we have dancers on roller-skates, dances with banjos, and a big finale,” Mokler said. Between the singing, dancing, and songs from a variety of musicals, Santa Barbarans may just get the vibrant pick-me-up they need. Ultimately, Mokler wants audiences to walk away from the theater knowing “they have had a fun, enjoyable experience, and that they walk away with hope.”
The World Goes ‘Round opens at SBCC’s Garvin Theatre on October 24. For tickets and information, call 965-5935.