Florida Studio Theatre’s newest production is an enjoyable and witty little musical revue featuring the songs of John Kander (music) and Fred Ebb (lyrics). The team is most famous for the hit Broadway musicals “Cabaret,” “Chicago” and the theme from “New York, New York.” Originally conceived by theater director Scott Ellis, choreographer Susan Stroman and writer David Thompson, the revue opened March 18, 1991, at Manhattan’s Westside Theatre, where it won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical Revue.
The show features many of the less-familiar songs from Kander and Ebb’s productions. From the longing “Maybe This Time,” to the cynical “Money Song,” the numbers included are comical, torchy or refreshingly acerbic and grouped around the general theme that love (and money doesn’t hurt) is what makes the world go around.
Gabriel Barre directs three women and two men through an eclectic collection of musical vignettes ranging from odes to coffee, Sara Lee and a personal trainer, to show-stoppers such as “Cabaret,” as the actors complain about or look for love while following Choreographer D.J. Grey’s commands to hoof, slink or skate. Music Director Frank Lindquist’s band (keyboard, reeds, bass, percussion) is on an upper level in the back of the stage while April Sorokin’s scenic design consists mainly of brightly colored ice cream chairs brought on and off stage.
On opening night, the performances were a little uneven in execution and the lesser-known numbers were often better than the blockbusters, which seemed musically and creatively underdeveloped, especially “World Goes Round,” which relied on flashlights dancing in the dark, not my idea of a visual thrill.
What worked best were some of the edgier songs, such as Zak Edwards’ poignant and vulnerable singing on “Mr. Cellophane” and Taprena Michelle Augustine and Carey Anderson singing and hamming it up in “The Grass is Always Greener.” Peter Gosik and Lauren Blackman shine in “Spider Woman.” “Ring Them Bells,” in which Augustine and Edwards are nerds who travel around the globe on cardboard cut-out Trans World Airlines to find one another, abetted by the entire cast, was fabulous, as was the full cast finale. Overall, it was a pleasant evening, indeed.
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