One of the most important elements of theater is confidence—as in confidence that the show being put on is going to transport the audience into a fabricated otherworld. Without, actors are just lying to a group of total strangers for two hours, hoping that when it's all over they can get to their car without anyone noticing.
Which is to say: With an astounding amount of confidence, the cast and crew of the musical The World Goes 'Round put a smile on my face during an unassuming Thursday night rehearsal.
Originally conceived as a musical revue showcasing the works of the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, The World Goes 'Round was produced by the men behind such blockbusters as Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. This production is essentially a greatest hits of Kander and Ebb, with a loose narrative thread through to hold the songs together.
That added storyline—one of regret and loss—adds heft to songs like "Mr. Cellophane" (from Chicago) and instantly attaches the characters to the audience, instead of just feeling like a free-floating collection of songs presented for the sake of musical theater nerds.
Although the songs are the central features, it is actually 2nd Street's performances where this show shines the brightest. While the men are both excellent, the women are knockouts.
Rachel Deegan absolutely devastates with her work on "My Coloring Book" and "Maybe This Time." Her voice alternating between smoky and tonally flawlessness is heartbreaking, an emotion she backs up with her facial expressions. Susan Benson uses spot-on comic timing to walk the finest of lines on "How Lucky can You Get." And, Tess Anderson creates a presence that balances wide-eyed ingénue with a sultry innocence, all without falling into pratfalls of caricature. Her version of "All That Jazz" is a show-stopper, served up all hot and jazz-handsy.
The World Goes Round
Feb. 28- March 9
2nd Street Theater, 220 NE Lafayette
$19-22, tickets available at 2ndstreettheater.com