Apple Hill 'revues' the Broadway music of Kander and Ebb
The names Kander and Ebb are behind many popular musical creations, easily recognized by anyone who enjoys a good show tune.
John Kander (composer) and Fred Ebb (lyricist) are the songwriting team who gave us melodies such as “New York, New York” “All That Jazz,” “Cabaret.” Apple Hill Playhouse celebrates their gift in “The World Goes 'Round,” opening this week at the Delmont community theater.
Music director Michael Rozell of Belle Vernon, who produces and directs musicals at Belle Vernon Area High School, where he has taught for 24 years, says he's wanted to work on this show for a long time.
“It's a sophisticated musical with incredible music,” Rozell says. “The audience will leave with an appreciation for the exquisite talents of the Kander and Ebb team. If they didn't know those names before this show, they certainly will know them after it.”
Denise Pullen of Greensburg, associate professor of theater and dance at Seton Hill University, directs.
“It was an instant ensemble from the first rehearsal,” Pullen says. “A talented cast that can sing makes the music come alive. In addition to beautiful ballads and duets, the show offers audiences one production number after another.”
The musical is arranged as a song cycle that starts at the beginning of a day, Pullen says, with “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup,” to a midday delight with “Arthur in the Afternoon,” to an evening on the town with “All That Jazz.”
It follows the course of a relationship, too, with songs about love, loss and loving again, as in “Sometimes a Day Goes By” and “Isn't This Better.”
“I love how the musical includes not only the songs with popular appeal, but also some wonderful surprises like ‘My Coloring Book' and ‘Sara Lee' that many people won't know. The revue format makes it all about the music and the movement — and it does, indeed, move,” Pullen says.
One of the show's performers, Surya Ravindran of Upper St. Clair, says his favorite part of “The World Goes ‘Round” is how well it has been curated by creators Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson.
“They put so much thought into which songs to select, how they should be ordered, and which actor should be singing what part, and it really shows in the way the show flows,” Ravindran says. “You can really sense the love that went into putting this music together, and for a revue of one of the greatest musical theater duos, that love is really what drives the show.”
The show is billed as a musical revue, but he says it's much more than that.
“It takes the theme of emotions and moving on to build an arc for each character, and has the confidence to tell a full story without needing to explain itself,” Ravindran says. “That's the kind of storytelling that I love, and I'm ecstatic to be a part of it.”
The cast includes Johnny Gallagher of Pittsburgh, Keri Lucey of Murrysville, Lauren McCurdy of Derry, Patrick J. McMahon of Gibsonia, Jamie Pasquinelli of Jefferson Hills, and Kelsey Riker of Douglassville. Stage managers are Nicole Makos of Allentown and Ravindran; choreographers are Kaylee Hansberry of New Kensington, Riker and Pullen.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.