March 26 2014 01:27 PM

Moonlight Stage Productions' The World Goes 'Round' tops our coverage of local plays

From left: Casey Garritano, Chelsea Franko and Benjamin Lopez
Photo by Ken Jacques

The World Goes ‘Round, a two-act musical revue at Avo Playhouse in Vista, is really one extended session of "Kander and Ebb Karaoke." In it, five fresh-faced singers perform 30 mostly memorable tunes by the estimable Broadway composing team of John Kander and Fred Ebb. They're backed simply and elegantly by Moonlight Stage Productions musical director Elan McMahan on piano and Mark Phelps on bass. This allows Kander and Ebb's alternately frothy and witty numbers to shine without being overpowered by swooning Broadway-type orchestration.

Some of Kander and Ebb's best work is included—namely "All That Jazz," "Class," "Mr. Cellophane" and "Me and My Baby" from Chicago. They're reminders of why recent stagings of the play by both San Diego Musical Theater and the Welk Resort Theatre were so popular. Chicago's a show that never gets moldy. But the same can't be said for Cabaret, whose "Maybe This Time," "Money, Money" (from the film) and the title tune sound worn out after all these years.

The World Goes ‘Round also taps songs from less-remembered Kander and Ebb shows like Rink and The Happy Time, as well as the hilarious slice of philosophy "The Grass is Always Greener" from 1981's Woman of the Year. Ensemble members Chelsea Franko and Marlene Montes do that one great justice, just as they do earlier with the salty-mouthed "Class" from Chicago. Other teasing delights are "Arthur in the Afternoon" from The Act and a likably silly tribute to Sara Lee and her baked goodies.

These comic moments are a welcome break from the lion's share of The World Goes ‘Round's sincere, ballad-heavy repertoire. Franko, a standout in Moonlight Stage Production's The Who's Tommy last summer, is also the sparkplug in this five-member cast, completed by Montes, Kristen Lamoureux, Casey Garritano and Benjamin Lopez, all of the latter making their Avo Playhouse debuts. David Engel directs and choreographs this production, though the dancing is on the elementary side given the restraints of the set. It, like the few bits played for laughs, takes a back seat to the songs, which follow one after the other as jauntily and cleanly as a jukebox in fine working order.

The World Goes ‘Round runs through April 6 at Avo Playhouse in Vista. $22-$30.

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13: A musical about a Jewish boy from New York City who's forced to move to small-town Indiana after his parents divorce. Presented by Actors Conservatory Theatre, it runs March 28 through 30 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: In this Stephen Sondheim musical farce, a slave in ancient Rome schemes to win his freedom by delivering the object of his young master's affection, but, of course, everything goes haywire. Presented by Broadway Vista, it opens March 28 at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido.

All My Sons: Arthur Miller's award-winning drama, set in 1946, is about the lengths to which a successful businessman has gone in order to provide a secure financial future for his two sons. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it opens in previews on March 27 at San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas.

The Liar: An adaptation by David Ives of a 17th-century play about a man who tells multiple fibs as he courts one of two sisters, mistakenly believing she's the other sibling. Opens March 29 at Scripps Ranch Theatre.

Opus: A staged reading of a play about the turmoil the erupts among the ranks of a world-class string quartet just before it's scheduled to perform at the White House. It happens March 30 at PowPAC in Poway.

Red: A successful abstract-expressionist painter must create a piece for the Four Seasons restaurant but is dogged by persistent challenges from his opinionated assistant. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it opens March 29 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown.

Time and the Conways: This philosophical drama follows a British family from hope in 1919 to desperation in 1937 and then returns to 1919 to show how things started to go wrong. Opens March 29 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

Now playing

Edgar & Annabel and Far Away: Ion Theatre is producing a double bill of short plays each night through March 29: Edgar & Annabel, a paranoid thriller about a couple of spies, and Far Away, a dystopian, wartime drama set in factory where hats are made for grim purposes. Through March 29 at BLK BOX Theatre in Hillcrest.

And the World Goes 'Round: A staged revue of the music of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, who gave us the songs from Cabaret, New York, New York and Chicago. Presented by Moonlight Stage Productions, it runs through April 6 at Avo Playhouse in Vista.

Cats: Which feline in the Jellicle tribe will be chosen to reborn into a new life in the Heaviside Layer? Presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, it runs through April 6 at the Birch North Park Theater.

The Gin Game: Two nursing-home residents engage in psychological warfare as they battle in games of gin rummy. Through April 6 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change: A musical series of vignettes about love and relationships. Through April 6 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido.

The Foreigner: A comedy about a sad Brit, a guest at a Georgia fishing lodge, who pretends to speak no English so he doesn't have to talk to anyone and ends up having to save the lodge from the Ku Klux Klan. Presented by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through April 13 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown.

Becky's New Car: A woman who works for a car dealership is bored in her marriage and begins living a double life after she meets a wealthy widower. Through April 13 at PowPAC in Poway.

Quilters: A musical about the lives of pioneer women in the American Old West. Through April 27 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado.

Spring Awakening: That awakening is a sexual one, experienced by young adults in a small German town, set to music by Duncan Sheik. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens runs through April 27 at The Old Town Theatre.

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill.


See all events on Friday, Dec 9