The World Goes ‘Round has to be one of the most satisfying revue musicals of the modern Broadway era. John Kander and Fred Ebb have been writing for the stage for several decades, and although not all of their shows have been the kind of monster hits they achieved with Cabaret and Chicago, the team’s work has an undeniable integrity and appeal amply in evidence in Rick Mokler’s production. Drawing on songs from throughout their career, and including numbers written for the Martin Scorsese movie musical New York, New York, The World Goes ‘Round makes a good argument for this genre, even against those die-hards who might say “but I need a story.” Yes, there’s no plot, and yes, the characters sing without their proper names or context, but the story here is in the songs, and they consistently are great. From Katie Thatcher’s grand opening performance of the title tune to the clever and touching re-imagination of “New York, New York” that’s offered as the show’s finale, everything presented in this action-packed evening is completely first rate.
Thatcher tackles the humbling task of following the great Liza Minnelli in several of her numbers, and she sails through admirably, in fine voice and with a full command of the elegantly simple stage designed by Ted Dolas. Cheri Steinkellner makes delicious fun out of her several songs, including a hilarious take on “Arthur in the Afternoon,” a slightly risque piece lifted from 1978’s The Act. As the sizzling ingenue of “All That Jazz,” Kate Brody-Adams has all the right moves, and a clear voice capable of negotiating Kander and Ebb’s tricky rhythms and time shifts. Tiffany Story adds a madcap touch, and her duet on “Class” with Marisol Miller-Wave is the night’s comic highlight. Jordan Baum has several strong moments, from the goofy “Sara Lee” to the poignant “Mister Cellophane.” The ensemble has some fun with roller skates when they put on a number from The Rink, and they do a great job backing Steinkellner on the second act opener, “Ring Them Bells.”
No Kander and Ebb evening would be complete without their signature songs, and this production manages to do them justice. Miller-Wave captures the frenetic intensity of “Cabaret.” Brody-Adams, Matthew Jess Elszy, and dancers Melissa Paper and Amaya Perea make a rousing crowd-pleaser out of the endlessly relevant “Money, Money” from Cabaret the movie. And the finale, “New York, New York” is everything it should be-still one of the greatest show tunes ever composed.