By Dale King
Musical revues have become popular fare at community and regional theaters of late. They’ve been staples the past few years at Broward Stage Door Theatre, particularly themed compilations created by Michael Leeds and/or Kevin Black.
The Wick Theatre had such success with a show called Beehive last year that one of its performers, Mallory Newbrough, has been nominated for a Carbonell Award for her vocal abilities displayed in that array of 1960s tunes by female artists.
Now, the Delray Beach Playhouse is jumping on that bandwagon with And the World Goes ‘Round, a collection of tunes by John Kander and Fred Ebb. After breaking into the biz with their first effort, a minor hit called Flora, the Red Menace (which introduced the world to a singer named Liza Minnelli), they produced one groundbreaking show after another: Chicago, Zorba, 70 Girls 70, Woman of the Year, Kiss of the Spider Woman and, of course, Cabaret.
With their tribute to Kander and Ebb, a talented crew of six vocalists kicks DPB to the next level. Since Kevin Barrett took over as executive director this season, Delray has ramped up its musical offerings, diversifying the nostalgic song series led by artistic director Randolph DelLago and adding a cabaret segment.
Returnees to Delray for this show include husband-and-wife team Jim and Diane Tyminski; Spensyr Bach, last seen as Dolly Tate in DBP’s Annie Get Your Gun and Michael Coppola, showing his musical side, which he sidestepped when he appeared as Felix Ungar in Delray’s Odd Couple.
New to this venue are Joshua Conner, fresh from appearances at the Wick, Broward Stage and Slow Burn Theatre at the Broward Center and Alisha Kothari, displaying the distinctive chops she earned with performances in Aida, Les Miserables, Anything Goes and Noises Off.
The revue celebrates 50 years of great Kander and Ebb standards, songs like “Ring Them Bells,” “Maybe This Time,” “My Coloring Book, “Mr. Cellophane” and a Barbra Streisand tune from the less-well-known sequel to Funny Girl called Funny Lady – “How Lucky Can You Get?”
Adding sparkle and verve to the musical is a seven-person live band under the direction of Toni Stamos.
Act I ends with a slam-dunk version of “All that Jazz.” The show concludes with a hand-clapping rendition of “New York, New York” that plays well with the Big Apple heritage of many in the gallery.
Directed by DelLago and choreographed by Joshua Daniel Conner, And the World Goes ’Round hones in on some excellent songs from great shows. And while some of them challenge the vocalists to bump up their expertise, the overall production provides a pleasant and entertaining evening.
The formula must be working, as performances began to sell out the first weekend. The program wraps up its run with a matinee on Sunday, Feb. 18.
The performers work hard to keep the show moving, frequently running offstage to change outfits. Costumer Sarah Crew has come up with some elegant duds. Kothari glitters in red sequins during her authoritative Cabaret solo, and Jim Tyminski dons an unassuming manner and outfit for “Mr. Cellophane,” a Chicago tune about a man everyone seems to ignore.
The ensemble joins together for “And the World Goes ’Round” – from New York, New York — which opens the show. Players move sprightly into “Yes,” then tackle a Kander-Ebb novelty tune, “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup.” Diane Tyminski and Conner show some fancy footwork and tuneful banter about “Arthur in the Afternoon,” the lady’s paean to her physical trainer. And Coppola rolls in on a cart filled with frozen pastries for the song “Sara Lee,” a tribute to his favorite sweet delicacy. “I’m in paradise,” he sings, “when I’m nibbling an apple spice.”
Some tunes are sad. “Coloring Book,” a song you’ve probably heard, but may not remember, offers Diane Tyminski a chance to go through a gloomy palette where “color me blue” is not a hue, but a mood. She and Bach combine for “The Grass is Always Greener” and everyone is back on the boards for the Cabaret song, “Money, Money.”
Bach gets several chances to display her potent voice. She delivers “Kiss of the Spider Woman” as if it were from a James Bond film, with a hint of Shirley Bassey in the mix. And “Colored Lights” – which became the title of the Kander and Ebb biography — is more controlled, but equally appealing.
Live musicians help enliven the show, particularly when the pace ebbs. The troupe includes Stamos in the lead spot, Arthur Barnes on keyboard, Brandon Stair on bass, David Kroll on percussion, Hayden Lamb on trumpet, David Wrye on trombone and Andrea Gilbert on woodwinds.
And the World Goes ’Round continues through Sunday at the Delray Beach Playhouse, 950 NW 9th St. (Lake Shore Drive), Delray Beach. All tickets are $30 and may be purchased online at delraybeachplayhouse.com or by calling 561-272-1281.