Editor’s note: With this review, BAMirror welcomes a new writer, George Basler, recently retired from a long reporting career at the Press & Sun-Bulletin. (Due to technical difficulty, the review previously was posted under the editor’s blog sign-on.)
Reviewed by George Basler
To the casual theatergoer, the names Kander and Ebb might not be as familiar as Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe or the Gershwins. But John Kander and Fred Ebb, who first teamed up in 1962, deserve a notch in Broadway history as the most long-running and successful duo of the last 50 years.
Even if you’re hazy on the names, their musicals — Cabaret, Chicago, Woman of the Year and Kiss of the Spider Woman, to name a few– are part of the cultural landscape. And, love it or hate it, they’re also responsible for the tune “New York, New York,” the unofficial anthem of the Big Apple.
The team’s skills as Broadway tunesmiths are well represented in a sprightly, well-sung and thoroughly enjoyable musical revue, The World Goes Round, being performed by SRO Productions III at the Roberson Mansion ballroom in Binghamton. The production skillfully balances Kander and Ebb’s more poignant songs with their humorous ones in an easy-to-take, two-hour offering. The cast of Beth Buczkowski, Gene Czebiniak, Scott Fisher, Alexandra Mendoza and Christina Salasny is uniformly first-rate, and George Kurbaba’s skillfull direction kept the show moving.
While the first act was enjoyable, for me, the revue really took off in the second act. The songs fit together in a smoother, more cohesive and emotionally engaging way. An example was a grouping of three songs on love and marriage — “Marry Me,” “A Quiet Thing” and “When It All Comes True” — performed beautifully by Buczkowski and Fisher.
Other highlights were the humorous song, “Pain,” about the down side of being a dancer, which was performed by the entire company, and “The Grass is Always Greener” from Women of the Year, performed by Mendoza and Salasny, that made the humorous, but so true point to be grateful for what you have. A real surprise was the company’s performace of the penultimate number, “Cabaret.” While I like the song well enough, let’s face it — it’s been done to death. But the cast sang it in the style of a jazz quintet — think the old group Manhattan Transfer — and that gave it a fresh, distintive feel.
One small quibble with the production: Despite the fact that the ballroom is a small, intimate space, the perfomers use microphones, in part, Kurbaba explained, because the orchestra is behind them. Still, for me, the amplification was a bit too loud in the first act. The second act seemed to be better, or maybe I just got used to it.
All and all, a top-notch two hours.
The World Goes Round opened last weekend (April 20-22) in the mansion ballroom at the Roberson Museum and Science Center, 30 Front St., Binghamton. The run continues this weekend with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (April 27, 28) and 2 p.m. Sunday (April 29). Tickets at $18 can be purchased at the door or online at www.roberson.org or by calling (607) 772-0660.