THE WORLD GOES ROUND: THE SONGS OF KANDER AND EBB
conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson.
Union Theatre 204 Union Street Southwark SE1 0LX To 8 February 2014.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 2.30pm.
Runs 2 hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 261 9876.
Review: William Russell 19 January.
Celebrating a marvellous musical union.
The Union has been home to splendid revivals of old musicals, and Broadway shows which, for all sorts of reasons, never crossed the Atlantic. Every now and then Artistic Director Sasha Regan stages a revue drawn from the songs of great Broadway composers; her latest offering, The World Goes Round, of songs by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, is one of the best to grace this celebrated railway arch theatre.
Director Kirk Jameson had an inspired idea for staging a show conceived by by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson. The ten-strong cast consists of five singers, two men and three women, all experienced, and an ensemble of five consisting of two young men and three young women just starting out. The result is the young “shadow” the old, turning what could have been just a collection of show songs into a musical show with a character all its own,
These are songs about love, usually past, sometimes gay, sometimes sad, sometimes mocking – and opening as it means to go on with the title song delivered memorably by Emma Francis, a glorious redhead who can do world-weary to the manner born.
None of the cast is miked, all of them fill the auditorium – admittedly small but even in the Union mikes are not unknown – and it is a delight to listen to them unaugmented. Michael Riley at the piano plays perfectly, and the numbers flow seamlessly. Many are familiar, but not all, and if there is a highlight (although picking one is invidious) it is ‘Arthur in the Afternoon’ sung by the gorgeous Lisa Stokke as a lady who passes the time of day with her toy-boy.
The lyric is hilarious, but when Arthur appears – Elliot Berry making his professional debut – it turns into one of the sexiest turns ever to grace the Union stage as he removes Ms Stokke’s garments piece by piece. ‘New York, New York’, sung as you will never have heard before, ends the show. Cabaret and Chicago are there too, as are songs from lesser-known works. Mr Jameson has worked wonders.
Cast: Simon Green, Gareth Snook, Lisa Stokke, Emma Francis, Susan Fay.
Ensemble: Elliot Berry, Shahail Woodcock, Charlotte Oakley, Gabrielle Allen, Genevieve Leeney.
Director/Designer: Kirk Jameson.
Musical Supervisor: Richard Bates.
Musical Director: Michael Riley.
Choreographer: Sam Spencer Lane.