The musical revue is an indulgent sort of idea. Plonking a load of songs together written for different musicals by the same writers can easily amount to little more than a pat-on-the-back exercise. But some writers just deserve it, frankly, not least John Kander and Fred Ebb. One of the greatest composing partnerships in musical theatre history, a selection of their choicest cuts are packaged together in ‘The World Goes ’Round’, and it’s a real treat to hear some of their top tunes all together.
Over their partnership, which stretched almost 50 years, Kander and Ebb created shows such as ‘Cabaret’, ‘Chicago’ and their most recent – and final – ‘The Scottsboro Boys’. While songs from the latter aren’t included in this evening of singable show tunes, many favourites are. There’s ‘Money, Money’, ‘New York, New York’, ‘Cabaret’ and ‘All That Jazz’, as made famous by the likes of Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra.
Kirk Jameson’s production offers some smooth, if occasionally contrived connections between the songs, while his backstage-of-a-nightclub designs evoke a cosy atmosphere fit for seedy romance. It takes a little while to adjust to the fact that there’s literally no narrative to connect the songs, though, and the first half isn’t littered with classics everyone will recognise.
But a strong cast of five, alongside an excellent dance ensemble, rise to the challenge of the notoriously hard but brilliant harmonies from ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Money, Money’. Susan Fay is a little underwhelming in her delivery of the uber saucy ‘All That Jazz’, but sings ‘Maybe This Time’ with real gusto. Simon Green’s rendition of ‘Sara Lee’ from ‘The Act’ is high energy fun, and Emma Francis’s ‘Ring Them Bells’ from ‘Liza with a “Z”’ is sassy, bright and really draws out the song’s humour.
This is most definitely a night for Kander and Ebb fans, but even if you’re new to their stuff, you’re likely to find something to love.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell