Studio, St James’ Theatre, London – until 7 February 2016
Kander & Ebb’s repertoire is famously bleak with musicals that have focused on the rise of Nazism, torture and misery in a Latin American jail, racism in the Deep South and celebrity criminals and corruption in Chicago. Their shows are challenging, often making for very uncomfortable entertainment. So it makes for quite a paradox that The World Goes Round offers an evening of delightful musical theatre treats.
Conceived some 25 years ago, it was Susan Stroman and David Thompson together with Scott Ellis who put together this eclectic selection that referenced all the composers’ musicals to date (though of course omitting The Scottsboro Boys which had yet to be written.)
Now on for one week only at the St James’ Studio, there’s an understated aura of finesse that surrounds this revival. Debbie Kurup leads an accomplished vocal quintet and with a nod to her Velma Kelly, makes fine work of Chicago‘s All That Jazz. There’s a measured quality elsewhere from Kurup with a neatly stylish opening take on the revue’s title number and a sensational duet in the second half alongside Alexandra Da Silva, the women giving a perfect interpretation of The Grass Is Always Greener from the not so well known Woman Of The Year.
Da Silva’s acting through song proves to be one of the evening’s highlights, kicking off the second half with Ring Them Bells. Sally Samad completes the female trio – and proves her credentials in (another) duet with Da Silva, Class from Chicago perfectly capturing the number’s wry irony.
Oliver Tompsett and Steffan Lloyd-Evans provide the evening’s tenor tones, never bettered than with Tompsett’s I Don’t Remember You segueing sweetly into Lloyd-Evans’ take on Sometimes A Day Goes By – though a nod too for Lloyd-Evans’ Mr Cellophane that captures the song’s wit and pathos.
It makes for a novel twist to hear Cabaret actually sung in cabaret – and the five-voice arrangement, accompanied mainly by Rhys Lovell’s bass, offers a refreshing interpretation of one of the Songbook’s greats. Kris Rawlinson’s four piece band are on point throughout, lending a polished turn to the show’s arrangements.
In a set that’s crammed with the familiar as well as the obscure, The World Goes Round makes for a gig of unadulterated charm.
Runs until 7th February 2016