Monday, November 5, 2018

Interview: Julie Makerov and the Fine Art of Balancing Music and Life

Julie Makerov. Photo by Shawn Flint Blair

How does a busy soprano balance career, family, motherhood, and art? If that soprano is Julie Makerov, it’s all about scheduling and planning ahead of time. Makerov, who will be appearing as one of four soloists with LA’s Verdi Chorus this weekend at First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica, says that’s the key to managing all of her commitments.

In a nutshell, “It’s about not saying yes to too much. I recently started my first year teaching two classes at Orange County School of the Arts. I also have seven private voice students and I’m on the board of directors at OperaWorks. It is a juggle but it’s worth it.”

With an impressive international career to her credit, Makerov admits she loves to travel but says the current phase of her personal and professional evolution means she is entering a period of less time on the road and more time spent closer to home. “I slowly decided that’s what I wanted. I have my hands in a lot of things but I wanted to make sure that my family life was taking priority. That’s hard for me to do when I’m traveling a lot. Plus, I felt really strongly that this was the next phase of my artistry; to take what I’ve learned and help other people.”

Which brings it back to her students. Makerov is often asked how she takes care of her voice and her advice is the same as that which she observes herself. At the top of the list are the big three: “I make sure that I’m hydrated systemically, so lots of water, good nutrition, and lots of sleep. You have to get a lot of sleep and that’s very difficult to do when you’re trying to balance being a busy mom, a busy teacher, and having a busy life with taking care of the instrument enough to perform well. I remind my students to use their air when they speak and cultivate those really good habits throughout the day so that when they go to sing the voice is there for them already.”

As for who helps her get dinner on the table, a forthright Makerov laughs and says, “It’s called a crockpot! Ask me who does the laundry too – I do.”

Julie Makerov as Rusalka with the Canadian Opera Company.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Over the course of her lengthy career, Makerov has played a wide range of characters. On the upcoming program with Verdi Chorus, she will be portraying a queen, a courtesan, a simple girl who poisons her mother and drowns her child, and a woman who leaves home rather than marry a man she doesn’t love and eventually throws herself off a cliff. Dramatic? Yes. It’s the stuff opera is made of. And, although she has not lived the same experiences as these particular characters, Makerov says creating them is all about making an emotional connection. It’s a thoughtful approach, one she says is required of every singer.


“None of the characters I’ve played have much to do with my day to day life. I can, however, draw upon their emotion. For example, I’ve sung Butterfly [from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly] several times and, at the time, I was in my late twenties/early thirties, Caucasian, and 5’9” – not necessarily what one would think of as Butterfly, right?

Two things: first of all, the music does an incredible amount of the work for you. So, if you sit back and let the composer do what he intended to do, that takes a lot of the weight off of you. The second thing is that if a singer goes through and ingests the words, if you really digest what you’re singing and find a way to relate to it personally, it is very possible to connect with the emotions rather than the specific story.

Take the scene in which Butterfly is waiting for Pinkerton to come back. She’s holding a picture with two hands and she says, ‘He with heart swollen/to hide from me the suffering/smiling he answered/tiny little wife/I’ll return with the roses in the season serene/I’ll make the nest says the robin/he’ll return/he’ll return/say it with me/he’ll return.’

Now, does that have anything to do with my life? No. Can one relate with a girl standing there waiting for somebody to return to her who she has basically given everything for and is convincing herself, and everybody around her, that he’s going to come back and love her? Yes. That’s very easily relatable, but the singer has to delve into the music and the words. When they do, it doesn’t take long before a person begins to feel for these characters.

Our job is to take the audience on an emotional journey, and if we are not specific about guiding the audience through that journey they won’t be guided. If we’re not thinking about what we’re saying, if we’re not familiar with it, we can’t actually move our audience at all. Any career takes discipline. We all have deadlines. We all have things we have to do. We have to discipline ourselves for that. But, beyond that, very specifically, in our business our job is to move an audience.”

Julie Makerov as Tosca with Brandon Jovanovich (Cavaradossi) in the
Canadian Opera Company production of Tosca. Photo courtesy of the artist. 

So, can she tell in performance when that happens? “A hundred per cent. Because the energy of the collective audience shifts. You know when they get it, when they are invested in what you’re saying, and, when they’re not, a hundred per cent of the time it’s because the singer is not thinking about where they are, what they’re doing, who the character is, what the show is. They’re not in it. They’re thinking about their voice and themselves.”

All of the pieces she will be singing this weekend on the program for Verdi Chorus’ Passione! Opera! Concert are ones she loves but she has a special affection for two of the arias. “L’altra note in fondo al mare [from Mefistofele] was one of the pieces I sang that got me to the top ten in the Met competition in 2003, so it’s dear to me and I love it. And I sang Ebben? Ne andrò lontana [from La Wally] in a production in Frankfurt and it is just beautiful.”

Rest assured, there will be no shortage of gorgeous music on November 10 & 11th as Makerov and her fellow artists join Anne Marie Ketchum and the Verdi Chorus for an evening of red hot passion, the kind only opera can do best.

For a look at the rest of the program, tickets, and more information, visit www.verdichorus.org. Parking is free and a reception follows each concert where you can meet the artists.


THE VERDI CHORUS: Passione! Opera!
November 10 (7:30 pm) and November 11 (2:00 pm)
First United Methodist Church
1008 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Tickets: $10 - $40 (800) 838-3006 or www.verdichorus.org
Founding Artistic Director: Anne Marie Ketchum
Guest soloists: Julie Makerov, Janelle DeStefano, Todd Wilander, and Gabriel Manro
Accompanist: Laraine Ann Madden

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Review: The Woman Who Went To Space as a Man, a Baffling Space Odyssey

L-R: Nathan Nonhof, James Ferrero, Emma Zakes Green, Betsy Moore,
Megan Rippey  and Ashley Steed. All photos by Mauricio Gomez.

Maureen Huskey’s new one act play with music The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man takes place wholly in the moment before death. Conceived as a 90 minute suspension of time in which Alice B. Sheldon (Betsy Moore) watches her life pass before her eyes, it blends music, movement, sound, and text to create as enigmatic a piece as the life of its central character. Thats not necessarily a good thing.

Sheldon was a woman who never felt comfortable in her own skin. Under the pen name James Tiptree, Jr., she would become known as a pioneering science fiction writer whose stories delved into the dark reaches of the human soul. Gender discrimination, violence against women, and issues like genocide and racism would inform her works, fueled by her own experiences in the suffocating social constructs of a male-dominated world.

Born in 1915, she was 6 when her parents first took her on safari to Africa, a troubling expedition that confirmed she had no power to express herself or make sense of the questions she had about the world. During her teen years she began to explore her previously repressed attraction to women but, at 19, Sheldon eloped and spent the next several years in an abusive marriage that would eventually end in divorce.

In 1942, she joined the Army as a WAAC and later the CIA, where she met and married a man ten years her senior, Huntingdon Sheldon (Alex Wells). “Ting” as she called him, was aware of her sexual orientation and although the two did not share a romantic relationship, they were comfortable and relatively happy together. He encouraged her to write and, at the age of 50, with the protective barrier of a male pseudonym, she found the personal and creative outlet she’d always longed for.

L-R: Ashley Steed, Paula Rebelo and Betsy Moore

Huskey’s examination of the woman whose inner demons eventually got the better of her is a worthy one and imagining it as a departure from one of Tiptree’s sci-fi stories is an interesting way of presenting it. But the play meanders through Sheldon’s life as memories enacted by younger versions of herself (Isabella Ramacciotti at 6, Paula Rebello at 19) while a bewildered Moore looks on. It isn’t possible to discern if the purpose is for clarity, understanding, or simply to review a life that never let her forget she didn’t fit in. And with an ambitious array of performance disciplines employed to tell the story, which unfortunately often stretch beyond the wheelhouse of its ensemble, it loses its impact amid all the confusion.

The musical background is by world music artist Yuval Ron and is more of a soundscape than a song score. There are songs but all are forgettable within the larger context of the play, instead folding into the kind of generalized cosmic sound you’d expect to hear in a sci-fi film. The overall effect is artsy but ultimately does little to emotionally engage the audience.

Set designer Eli Smith conjures foggy images of the galaxy and Sheldon’s time machine/space ship with a minimal number of elements. A complicated series of cords is used for characters to step in and out of time periods and create visual interest in the small space. The optics work well within this abstract theatrical world Huskey has created, along with Rose Malones amorphous lighting. As the story starts to short circuit around Sheldon, Martin Carrillo’s evocative sound design takes on an urgency that underscores the play’s impending conclusion.

Though the sum of its parts does not yet add up dramatically, The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man does fit somewhat more effectively in the landscape of a theatrical tone poem. There the freer style of its content allows more room for the playwright to explore Sheldons fascinating life journey and tragic end without limits. 

THE WOMAN WHO WENT TO SPACE AS A MAN
October 27 – November 18, 2018
Son of Semele
3301 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Tickets: www.sonofsemele.org

L-R: Nathan Nonhof, Betsy Moore, Isabella Ramacciotti, Anneliese Euler,
Robert Paterno, Megan Rippey and Ashley Steed

L-R: Nathan Nonhof, Betsy Moore and Paula Rebelo

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

LA Phil's THE TEMPEST Brings Sibelius and Shakespeare Together on Stage


A storm is brewing in Walt Disney Concert Hall and on November 8, 9 & 10th it will ring to the rafters with gale-force intensity. That’s when director Barry Edelstein and The Old Globe’s major new production of THE TEMPEST lands on stage.

Susanna Mälkki conducts Sibelius’ evocative music for Shakespeare’s masterpiece about a shipwreck on a magical island, featuring a cast of 27 actors, singers, and dancers, plus the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The fully-staged performance stars Lior Ashkenazi as Prospero with Tony Award nominees Beth Malone (Ariel) and Tom McGowan (Caliban), and award-wining stage and screen actor Peter MacNicol (Sebastian) among its cast.

Drinks in The  Garden special discount:
For the Friday, November 9th performance, use promo code SOUNDINGPOINT for 20% off terrace-section seats. Then come early Friday night (beginning at 6:30 pm) and enjoy complimentary drinks and a unique view of the DTLA skyline from the Garden. It’s a great way to end your week on a high note.


SIBELIUS AND SHAKESPEARE: THE TEMPEST
LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
CLICK HERE for tickets and more information.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Theatre West and Artist Levi Ponce Celebrate Judy Garland in New Mural

Dorothy

On Sunday, October 27th,
Theatre West presented a beautiful new addition to the urban art landscape in Los Angeles with the unveiling of local artist Levi Ponce’s latest mural featuring Judy Garland. Painted in full color and pictured with the Emerald City behind her, the portrait immortalizes one of the most beloved singers of all time in her signature role – Dorothy Gale from the classic 1939 MGM musical, The Wizard of Oz.

Drivers going south on the 101 freeway through the Cahuenga Pass will get a gorgeous view of the mural off to the right as they pass by the theater. Those familiar with the artist’s body of work will recognize his vivid images and unique style, one that has come to signify the very culture of Los Angeles.

As part of the event, Ponce received an honorary lifetime membership to Theatre West, which is the longest running theatre company in Los Angeles. Founded in 1962, it has been home to such artists as Betty Garrett, Lee Meriwether, Jack Nicholson, Ray Bradbury, Richard Dreyfuss, Sherwood Schwartz, Sally Field, and Beau Bridges.

During the presentation, an emotional Ponce talked about his early work, saying he didn’t start out trying to become famous as a muralist. He was “just trying to clean up my street and help my community.”

Levi Ponce

His first mural to attract public attention was an image of actor
Danny Trejo painted on the side of a building in Pacoima where Ponce grew up. Over the next seven years, his murals began to appear all over Los Angeles, from Pacoima to Reseda to Venice. And when Hollywood came knocking, his art gained an even larger following.


Along the way, he also found that he liked helping other people discover what they’re good at doing too. He has inspired neighbors to work together on community art projects and believes the future is bright when communities work together for common goals. “All the good things that came to me happened because I was participating in my community,” he says. “The best is yet to come.”

Following the unveiling, the theatre hosted a reception, costume contest, and sing along screening of The Wizard of Oz.

The artist signs his work

Lee Meriwether and Levi Ponce

Levi Ponce and the "Mayor" officially cut the ribbon

Levi Ponce and David Johnson

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: Ammo Theatre's FAIRY TALE THEATRE 18 & OVER is Comedy with a Kick

Michael J. Feldman (center) with Sheila Carrasco, Greg Worswick,
Burl Moseley, and Tina Huang. All photos by Jeff Lorch

Ammunition Theatre Company ventures into the wacky world of fractured fairy tales for its latest production, Fairy Tale Theatre 18 & Over: The Musical. Written and narrated by Michael J. Feldman, with original songs by Jason Currie, the show consists of four sketch comedy skits performed in 90 minutes, no intermission, by a group of energetic actors with mostly stand-up and television backgrounds.

Singing ability is mixed but the performances are really a showcase for Feldman’s episodic writing and the quirky characters he’s created. What sets them apart from other fairy tale parodies is the playful way he addresses contemporary issues like gender stereotypes, unrequited love, and our obsession with celebrities. Annie McVey, who has directed all of Feldman’s previous installments of Fairy Tale Theatre, once again brings her eye for keeping it real to this current iteration of the series.

L-R: Sheila Carrasco, Greg Worswick, Burl Moseley, Cloie Wyatt Taylor,
 Jess McKay, and Michael J Feldman

Two of the best sketches are The Tale of Lucky the Service Dog and The Tale of the Lonely Star. In the former, Feldman transfers the polarizing topic of white privilege to dogs, specifically to those who enjoy “vest privilege” as service dogs and to those who do not. By recreating the prejudices and lack of consideration found in humans, but applying them to our canine friends, he is able to deliver the message that, “Just being aware of your privilege isn’t good enough,” in a story that audiences can laugh at but still get the point.

In the latter, a lonely star in the sky looks to connect with others to feel less alone. He encounters many groups during his search, each with its own requirements for being part of the gang. In one, all you have to do is “accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.” In another, the emphasis is on being physically fit. In yet another, it’s all about the dysfunctional family unit, and Feldman - quite literally - blows it apart. “Can’t we all just believe what we want to believe and get along with each other,” he asks as the journey becomes more complicated than he ever thought it could be.

This piece also skewers social media and how living our lives through a series of selfies and carefully curated Instagram posts does everything but make a real connection. Think of it as a kind of existential comedy with a goofy cosmic edge, goofy being the operative word.

Greg Worswick (center) with Sheila Carrasco, Cloie Wyatt Taylor, and Burl Moseley

Stephen Rowan’s costumes are a dream, created on what can only have been a shoestring budget. It’s hard to pick a favorite from among the silliness but some of the standouts include Greg Worswick’s Unicorn garb (perfect for Greg’s way-out-of-left-field performance), Tina Huang as a melting glacier, all of the dogs, and Michael Feldman’s Blue Star. It’s also uncanny how dressing up Sheila Carrasco as a Silent P or a fish highlights how much she resembles Troubie company member Beth Kennedy. They even make the same crazy faces. Somebody please write the story that puts them in the same show together. Please. It would be comedy gold.

All of the cast members take their turn in the spotlight and music theatre lovers will be happy to hear references to the Stephens - Sondheim and Schwartz - in a couple of numbers. It’s a lively 90 minutes with an appealing group of funsters who go for it every time they step onstage. More than anything, Fairy Tale Theatre is an escape. And that’s something we all need now and again, along with a reminder to check our assumptions at the door and get over ourselves.

FAIRY TALE THEATRE 18 & OVER: THE MUSICAL
September 14 - October 7, 2018
Ammunition Theatre Company at The Pico
10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tickets and info: (323) 628-1622 or AmmunitionTheatre.com
Ticket Link

L-R: Matt Cook, Jason Rogel, Jess McKay, and Tina Huang

Jess McKay, with an amazing Eskimo puppet, and Tina Huang

The Cast of Fairy Tale Theatre 18 and Over: The Musical - and yes, it is

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Review: Color and Light Theatre Ensemble's LIZZIE is Rage Rock at its Finest

L-R: Jenni Marie Lopez, Brooke Van Grinsven, Leslie Rubino and Samantha
LaBrecque. All photos by Corwin Evans

How much rage would a person need to feel to kill two people with 29 whacks of an axe? The short answer is, a lot. That’s the number Andrew Borden and his second wife Abby actually sustained in 1892 - not the 81 immortalized in this haunting nursery rhyme.

“Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.”

To this day, no one knows who committed the murders although Andrew’s youngest daughter, Lizzie, has always been guilty in the court of public opinion. She was acquitted at trial but rumors followed her to her grave. What we do know is that a crime of passion enacted with this much violence can only mean there is more to the story.

LIZZIE, by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer, Alan Stevens Hewitt, and Tim Maner, draws its own conclusions about what might have fueled Lizzie Borden’s rage to the point of committing murder, and Color & Light Theatre Ensemble brings that rage to the forefront in a ballsy 90-minute musical character study that is part throat-ripping rock concert, part riveting theatre invention. This is rage rock at its finest and the four women who tell the story have the vocal ability and acting intensity to deliver a moving tale with unrelenting ferocity.

Jenni Marie Lopez and Leslie Rubino

Revelations of incest, a forbidden lesbian love affair, and a stepmother with no love for her husband’s children make up the bones of the piece. Director Joanna Syiek’s minimalist staging shows a wicked sense of humor and an ability to create visuals that are streamlined but set to stun.

Poisonous steam billows from an innocent tea cup, a tangle of dead pigeons cling to a bloodstained sheet, and the meaty flesh of two watermelons makes an enactment of the murders as deliciously spoof-worthy as it is sobering.

An act break would have come in handy at this climactic moment to help facilitate the tonal shift (and ensuing cleanup). As presented, the current version of the piece is done without an intermission. I’m not certain that’s the right choice.

Leslie Rubino

At the center of this macabre universe is an explosive Leslie Rubino who plays Lizzie. Slight of stature and sporting a punk pompadour with a blood red streak, as if to presage later events, we see both her vulnerability and the rage that erupts when the weight of betrayal finally cracks her open. It is a charismatic high-voltage performance, the kind that matters when you consider that stories about sexual abuse and men attempting to suppress a woman’s voice are still staples of the modern daily news cycle.

In her orbit are three equally fierce women: older sister, Emma (Brooke Van Grinsven); next door neighbor and Lizzie’s eventual lover, Alice (Jenni Marie Lopez); and Bridget, the Borden’s cheeky Irish maid (Samantha LaBreque). Van Grinsven attacks her role with the intensity of a bomb going off and never lets up. Lopez lends balance to the driving assault on your senses in softer scenes with Lizzie but lets it rip when the emotional angst of a number requires her to grind it out. LaBrecque is an amusing addition to the foursome playing a servant with a mind of her own. She’s smarter than she lets on and her face is a running commentary on what is really happening at any given moment.

L-R: Brooke Van Grinsven, Leslie Rubino and Samantha LaBrecque

The venue is Resident LA, a club in the DTLA arts district, which adds to the rock concert feel of the evening. It’s the right place with the right atmosphere and it also means the band, led by musical director Jennifer Lin, makes as powerful a statement as the characters. There are only four of them - Lin on keys, Johanna Chase on bass, Carlos Flores on guitar and Nicole Marcus on drums but they sound like they’re opening up the gates of hell. Besides, who doesn’t love seeing a girl drummer?

Of course, the sound is loud but I appreciated how well the sound team (Corwin Evans-sound design, Eric Huff-sound engineer, James Graham & Kyle Ormiston-sound mix & tech) created a balance that made it still possible to understand the lyrics. That’s incredibly important because the production is sung-through and those songs tell the story.

Tyler Ledon’s lighting is dramatic and quite saturated. Costumes by Samantha Teplitz do more than simply set the period. They reflect a great deal about each character. For example, Emma is cinched in so tightly at the waist that it seems she’ll burst at any moment from the pent-up rage within her, and Lizzie starts the show in demure black and white but a flash of her tights foreshadows a future Lizzie you know won’t be content to live by the constraints of Victorian repression.

As the costumes slowly transform to contemporary rock-inspired looks, the show also begins to transcend time and place and connect the sins of the past with the sins of the present. It may be subtext but we can hear it loud and clear. We’re pissed as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.

All of it adds up to a production that doesn’t compromise its message or back off in the way it delivers it. It’s an altogether gripping experience.

LIZZIE
September 14-29, 2018
Color and Light Theatre Ensemble @ Resident LA
428 S. Hewitt St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tickets and info: www.lizzielosangeles.com
For more info about Resident: Residentdtla.com


Brooke Van Grinsven and Samantha LaBrecque

Leslie Rubino and Samantha LaBrecque

Jenni Marie Lopez and Leslie Rubino

Jenni Marie Lopez, Leslie Rubino and Brooke Van Grinsven

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Friday, September 7, 2018

Review: THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND Kander and Ebb Style for Reprise 2.0

L-R: Dawnn Lewis, Michael Starr, Kelley Dorney, Larry Cedar and Valerie Perri

Somewhere between its opening of
Sweet Charity in late June and the end of July, Reprise 2.0 postponed its second scheduled production of its inaugural season, Victor/Victoria. In its place, the company has mounted a revival of Kander & Ebb’s musical revue, The World Goes ‘Round, and, while it isn’t a rarely revived book musical, which has always been Reprise’s focus in the past, it does contain a score derived from some of the best songs in the classic Kander & Ebb catalogue (think Chicago and Cabaret).

Director Richard Israel sets the revue in a chic upscale nightclub where five singers decked out in evening wear reflect on life and love in the familiar cabaret style. Backing them, and placed on stage in full view, are musical director Gerald Sternbach and his 7-piece all-male orchestra. It’s a rare opportunity to watch the musicians in action along with the singers, and a hallmark of Reprise’s singular style.

Israel’s production is impressively sleek, with comedy in the movement, courtesy of his and choreographer John Todd’s creative tongue-in-cheek approach, and a winning cast of five distinct personalities: Dawnn Lewis, Valerie Perri, Larry Cedar, Kelley Dorney, and Michael Starr. Todd does a nice job of adding choreography for “singers who move” plus a couple of specialties for those with a little more dance training, but the big focus is on the singing.

Valerie Perri

Each cast member brings a unique quality to the show, with Lewis and Perri as the doyennes of the group commiserating about the deterioration of morals and manners in the entertaining duet “Class” from Chicago and acknowledging their individual longings in emotionally-rich solos. Lewis uses a hard brassy belt on the opening title song “And the World Goes ‘Round” from New York, New York and an even stronger power belt on “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret to convey her determined resilience, while Perri loses herself in the poignant and fragile memories of “Isn’t This Better” from Funny Lady and The Rink’s “Colored Lights.”

That particular number shows off a gorgeous lighting effect by Jared A. Sayeg in which colored lights are sprayed across the stage ending with a pink spotlight on Perri and a brilliant rainbow of colors suspended over her. It’s one of a number of breathtaking effects Sayeg creates where lighting takes on the function of a living, breathing character in its own right but he never overplays it.

In lesser hands, the lighting for a song like the title number from Kiss of the Spider Woman would most likely replicate a spider web but instead Sayeg only suggests it. He uses a geometric pattern that doesn’t hit you over the head but still effectively adds a mysterious vibe to the song. It’s elegant and refined work that balances subtlety with front-and-center concepts to create a big impact.

Photo by Ellen Dostal

His lighting also makes scenic designer Stephen Gifford’s sophisticated nightclub set look expensive. Ornate openwork wood panels hang above the orchestra, which is positioned on an elevated platform behind the singers and framed with a warm cutout railing. The wall-to-wall stairs and floorshow area in front of it are where the singers strut their stuff.

When not performing, cast members watch the show while seated at one of two cocktail tables on either side of the stage, along with the audience. The illusion is of an intimate setting that opens up to sustain the larger emotional worlds contained in the music with only a change in Sayeg’s lighting. As a team, Gifford and Sayeg are hard to beat. If there was such a thing as the “Dynamic Duo” of Design, they’d be breaking out their superhero capes on a regular basis and saving visual atrocities on stages from Gotham to the City of Angels nightly.

An energetic Dorney is most effective when she plays it simple, as she does for her best song of the night, “A Quiet Thing” from Flora, The Red Menace. Starr’s high notes are a stretch but it almost doesn’t matter. He’s the bare-chested beefcake that makes Perri’s life worth living in “Arthur in the Afternoon” from The Act, a little-known star vehicle Kander & Ebb wrote for Liza Minelli that won her a Tony Award. It’s unlikely you’ll remember anything else he’s done in the show after he takes his shirt off but that, of course, is the point.

Cedar’s easy manner as a singer (and yes, dancer) is beautifully understated, which makes a pleasing contrast to the belting and fast-paced attack in many of the other songs. His love song to pastries - “Sara Lee,” also from The Act - is priceless. In “We Can Make It” from The Rink, he plays it smooth and lets the lyricism of the song inspire the audience. And, in his most recognizable solo - “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago - he again uses his natural charm to gain empathy without turning the song into a big presentational number.

The cast of The World Goes 'Round

Five soloists with five different vocal styles means the blend doesn’t always gel when they sing together but it is the solos and small numbers that make the show memorable and, in their own corners, each artist excels.

It’s also great to hear these lesser-known Kander & Ebb songs infused with so much life, since the musicals themselves aren’t often produced. Perhaps there is a New York, New York, Funny Lady or Woman of the Year waiting in the wings to be produced on the west coast at some point. For now, Reprise’s The World Goes ‘Round is as close as you’ll get to hearing the songs that made Kander & Ebb famous in a theatrical setting.

The World Goes ‘Round is conceived by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman, and David Thompson, and presented by Reprise 2.0 in association with the UCLA TFT Department of Theater.

Dawnn Lewis



THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND

September 5 - 16, 2018
Reprise 2.0 at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse
UCLA - North Campus
245 Charles E. Young E Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Tickets and info: 800-982-2787 or www.Reprise2.org
Photo credit: Michael Lamont

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