Alex Reid, Arts & Entertainments Co-Editor.
A passionate, exuberant love for the material can be a blessing or a curse on stage. The adoration can be infectious, or nauseating, depending on how deeply you engage with the show by the end. I was a little worried going into The World Goes ‘Round, the latest production at The MAC, that I’d come out a few hours later sickened of a wide array of Broadway songs. However, I was completely and utterly won over by the show.
The World Goes ‘Round is a compilation of some of Broadway’s greatest hits (New York, New York, Mr. Cellophane, City Lights) performed vigorously one after the other. But before the show starts, the set design does wonders to sell you on the show. The stage has been dressed like a 1920’s Jazz bar, with moody lighting silhouetting the piano and band. Around twenty tables have been set out in front of the stage for some lucky audience members to sit by, bathed in a light smoke and moody muted lamps.
The illusion continues once the show starts. This isn’t a night at the theatre, it’s a night in a smoky, moody club. The band tune-up their instruments, a small but effective choice, before the performers arrive on stage. For the next two hours, these five performers sing, dance, and play along with the band across a wide breadth of moods and songs. The range in their performances is really remarkable. The nature of a compilation show of Broadway hits means that each new song requires a new character. But the mood and feeling of each new character is communicated very efficiently.
There is some whiplash in terms of mood, especially in the second act. Here, some of the most dramatic songs are played beside some of the most comedic. It’s a credit to the performers that by the time the comedic song starts you haven’t quite rebounded from the previous song. I can’t help but wonder if there were smoother ways of transitioning the songs.
Special attention must be paid to the band as well. Although they stay in the background for the entire performance, it’s rare that they’re not constantly playing. I was expecting a slip-up after two hours of constant playing, but with the exception of a single missed note near the end, I couldn’t hear any mishaps. Their endurance is impressive and their synchronisation with the performers is rehearsed to the second.
I’m not the most knowledgeable of Broadway plays; I thought that I wouldn’t understand the whole show at all because I don’t know a lot of the songs they’re singing. However, if you’re looking for a fantastic way to spend a night in Belfast in the next few weeks, it’s entertaining, fun, enlightening, moody, and ruthlessly efficient. I’d recommend it.
Director: Rachel Logan-Fee
Cast: Aveen Biddle, Carolyn Maitland, Conor McFarlane, Stephanie McConville, Will Arundell
Runtime: 2 hours