Review: Song, dance and emotion aplenty in honour of Kander and Ebb on Leamington stage

Nick Le Mesurier reviews The World Goes ‘Round at the Loft Theatre, Leamington
Martha Allen-Smith, Kim Arnold, Chris Gilbey-Smith, Ben Munday and Val Whitlock: 'Together they make up a fine ensemble' (photo: Richard Smith)Martha Allen-Smith, Kim Arnold, Chris Gilbey-Smith, Ben Munday and Val Whitlock: 'Together they make up a fine ensemble' (photo: Richard Smith)
Martha Allen-Smith, Kim Arnold, Chris Gilbey-Smith, Ben Munday and Val Whitlock: 'Together they make up a fine ensemble' (photo: Richard Smith)

​Five performers, thirty songs drawn from the repertoire of John Kander and Fred Ebb, creators of such Broadway hits as Cabaret and New York, New York; a small orchestra, a more or less bare stage, very little dialogue, and no plot. ​In spite of these apparent limitations the Kander and Ebb musical revue, The World Goes ‘Round, which was a big hit in 1992, comes to the Loft with a bang. It’s a show full of energy to warm the heart in these chilly times.

The five performers are Martha Allen-Smith, Kim Arnold, Chris Gilbey-Smith, Ben Munday and Val Whitlock. Together they make up a fine ensemble, shifting effortlessly between songs, changing into a multitude of costumes, adopting roles within the songs that are immediately recognisable. There’s the loser in love, in songs such as My Colouring Book, and Maybe This Time. There’s the comic duet as in Class, in which Martha Allen-Smith and Val Whitlock play two drunks bemoaning the eponymous loss in society. There’s more comedy, in Sara Lee, and in The Rink (the latter played on roller skates), and in Arthur in the Afternoon. There’s lots of irony within the songs, and lots and lots of hope and aspiration, those staple emotions of the American musical, and indeed the American Dream. All life is there, wrapped up in a series of three or five-minute songs that are poetic and full of stories in themselves, so that together they make up a collage of American ideals. Nothing is too serious, except for love, which is too serious not to be taken with a bitter-sweet pinch of salt.

James Suckling’s direction kept things moving apace, and there were some fine performances from each of the five singers. First night nerves, perhaps, led to a few occasionally stiff movements, particularly in one or two of the dances, and the globe that appears at the end of the show in New York, New York needs an urgent refurb.

An enjoyable and unusual piece of musical theatre that brings the Loft’s excellent 2023 season to a close.

Until December 9. Visit lofttheatrecompany.com to book.

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