And the World Goes 'Round | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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And the World Goes 'Round

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And the World Goes 'Round, Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre. The concept, promulgated primarily by Susan Stroman, is a kind of situational revue. Selections from ten musicals by John Kander and Fred Ebb are swiftly--often too quickly--crammed into scenes set up by some trendy event: an aerobics class, a cellular phone call, a sudden downsizing. Two lonely neighbors gaze adoringly at each other from their windows until one belts out "Marry Me." A dork rhapsodizes over "Sara Lee" or effaces himself as "Mr. Cellophane." A lovelorn lady rips the stuffing out of "Maybe This Time." Group situations include drinking "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup," cooing over an imaginary baby ("Me and My Baby"), bidding on the commodities exchange ("Money [Money]"), and, most disconcerting, improvising a jazz musicale from the title showstoppers of Cabaret and New York, New York (another kind of downsizing).

As cleverly as the show weaves together seemingly unrelated songs (all linked by the world-weary title number), it also limits their range. It's tiring to see supposedly self-contained tunes so aggressively acted out, as if an actress carting around a doll to show she's a single parent could pass for a plot.

The pity is that David H. Bell's seven superb cast members could have sold their songs without resorting to situations. Alene Robertson, a belter who wrings hearts, is all the context that "How Lucky Can You Get" needs, and Kingsley Leggs sings "Kiss of the Spider Woman" eloquently enough to fill in any blanks. Fewer props and more faith in the material would have made this a worthier tribute. --Lawrence Bommer

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