“The World Goes ‘Round” – Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ November 10, 2008


Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, Center for the Performing Arts, Paradise Valley Community College
Phoenix, AZ

Many musical revues are problematic. Witness the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company’s current, “The World Goes ‘Round,” a collection of John Kander and Fred Ebb tunes from their myriad of Broadway and movie musical hits.

The show does nothing with its collection of 32 tunes. It doesn’t present them in the context of the shows they came from and it doesn’t tell us anything about the team that created them. Its just song after song. Unless you are a musical theater aficionado, you won’t even recognize the shows these songs came from.

The best musical revues tell us something about the composer and lyricist, provide a context for the songs, and distinguish the tribute team’s unique contributions to the musical theater. “The World Goes ‘Round” does none of these things.

And then there’s Tracy Coe’s clunky staging that adds no spark to the songs and it doesn’t create any transition between the tunes. Abby Siskind has supposedly re-created Susan Stroman’s original choreographic routines. The bland dancing – partially the fault of the quintet of singers who don’t dance well – adds nothing to the proceedings. Stroman’s dances weren’t this flat in the original production. Set projections are distracting.

Since the cast sings better than it moves, the vocal renditions are pleasant. The two men are best. Ben Medina sings pleasantly and moves better than any of the ensemble. He croons “The Happy Time” with a tad of pathos, he has fun in “Arthur in the Afternoon,” and he is pensive in “Chicago’s” “Mr. Cellophane.” John Haubner sings in a big, booming voice but not all the songs he performs are right for his vocal style. He is most effective in the “Kiss of the Spider Woman” title tune.

The women all have a negative that keep their performances from shining. Amy Powers lacks the necessary sexiness to effectively perform “All That Jazz” or “The Act’s” “Arthur in the Afternoon.” Jenn Taber’s vocal powers are strong and sure but she doesn’t handle movement gracefully. Janine Smith lacks the comedic punch necessary to sing “Chicago’s” “Class” or “Woman of the Year’s” “The Grass is Always Greener.”

This cast, stymied by the weak production, never becomes a spirited group of dynamic entertainers so “The World Goes ‘Round” is long and lethargic. It continues through November 23. For tickets, call the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company box office at 602-264-0402 or go online at www.azjewishtheatre.org.

One must acknowledge the beautiful theater AJTC performs in at Paradise Valley Community College. It’s a comfortable, state-of-the-art facility, if only the technicians could get all the performers body microphones to work throughout the entire production.

Grade: D