And The World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander & Ebb
I believe I might do mayhem Yes, I might destroy myself If I ever found her missing From my grocer's shelf... Sara Lee!
- Music by John Kander
- Lyrics by Fred Ebb
- Directed by Scott Ellis
- Orchestrations by David Krane
- Choreography by Susan Stroman
- Musical direction and vocal and dance arrangements by David Loud
- Opened 3/18/91 at the Westside Theatre in New York.
This disc is a revue of the best songs of one of the most important Broadway songwriting teams. Best known for their massive hits Cabaret and Chicago, and for their song "New York, New York," Kander and Ebb actually have a considerable resume of shows and have had a presence on Broadway (both separately and together) and in the movies and popular music since the late 1950s. They're the last of the classic teams to still be active in the theatre. Unlike, say, Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe, only a few songs of their songs are immediately recognizable by non-theatre aficionados.
The revue is broken into four thematic sections (I can't remember what the themes are, and the booklet doesn't say), each introduced by a reprise of the song "The World Goes 'Round." Shows covered include New York, New York, 70, Girls, 70, The Rink, The Act, The Happy Time, Woman of the Year, Chicago, Flora, the Red Menace, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Funny Lady, and, of course, Cabaret. There are also a couple of songs that aren't attributed to any show, so I assume they were merely songs: "Sara Lee" (a paean to the pastry), "My Coloring Book," and "Trio." The five hardworking and extremely professional performers get roughly equal time.
- The World Goes 'Round
- Coffee in a Cardboard Cup
- Colored Lights
- Sara Lee
- Arthur in the Afternoon
- The World Goes 'Round (reprise)/My Coloring Book
- I Don't Remember You/Sometimes A Day Goes By
- All That Jazz
- Mr. Cellophane
- There Goes the Ball Game/How Lucky Can You Get
- Marry Me/A Quiet Thing
- Kiss of the Spider Woman
- The Grass is Always Greener
- The World Goes 'Round (reprise)/We Can Make It/Maybe This Time
- Isn't This Better?/Trio
- The World Goes 'Round (reprise)/Money, Money
- Theme from 'New York, New York'/The World Goes 'Round (reprise)
- Drama Desk Awards:
- Outstanding Musical Revue
- Outstanding Director of a Musical
- Outstanding Featured Actress - Karen Ziemba
I saw this off-Broadway revue quite a while back, when it came to Denver. I believe several of the original cast were traveling with it, but I haven't been able to verify this. Anyway, I wasn't the Broadway fanatic I would later become, and I remember going to the show with my parents, none of us knowing what to expect and all somewhat dubious about the entertainment value of a revue filled with songs we didn't know. Kander and Ebb? Who were these guys, and what had they done to merit a whole revue? I'd heard "Cabaret" and "New York, New York," of course, but what was "All That Jazz" beyond the title of a Bob Fosse movie I hadn't seen? (This was a few years before the revival of Chicago.)
We came out of the show thoroughly energized, and me with a desire to find out more about these songwriters. What great music! What a stunning little show! And this CD conveys a great deal of why this revue was so attractive. The songs are, of course, mostly fantastic: pure Broadway, eminently actable, with witty lyrics and plenty of emotion. Song selection is good; the creators used some of the most interesting K&E songs out there--the choice of "The Grass Is Always Greener" from Woman of the Year was inspired--and in some cases took the very best songs from some less-than-great shows (I'm thinking of "Arthur in the Afternoon" from The Act, which will give you a totally false impression of the quality of that otherwise mediocre show). The arrangements are somewhat different from, and sometimes superior to, those in the original shows. For example, "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup" is a fairly straightforward song in 70, Girls, 70, but in And The World Goes 'Round, each stanza is sung with increasing speed, until the performers are singing about as fast as that guy from the Federal Express commercials.
But a lot of credit must go to the performers, all of whom possess serious talent and most of whom have since become quite well known. Sometimes revues can disappoint because the performers sing the songs rather than perform them, but in this show every song is performed to the hilt, and with a ton of energy. Jim Walton (whom we have met in Merrily We Roll Along) is hysterical on "Sara Lee" and "Mr. Cellophane." Karen Mason's "Colored Lights" is absolutely picture-perfect--she performs the song's double takes and hurried corrections with complete believability; much better than Liza Minelli on the OBC. Karen Ziemba continues to show why she's inherited the Gwen Verdon/Chita Rivera triple-threat mantle with her smashing "Arthur in the Afternoon" (God, I wish her dance on that number had been preserved on video). Brenda Pressley, who is the only one of the five I don't have anywhere else (hold that thought--I just got Dreamgirls, except she has a really dinky role in that show), makes a great housewife to Mason's starlet in "The Grass Is Always Greener" and does a lovely, wistful "My Coloring Book." Cuccioli (pre-Jeckyll and Hyde) is the least notable of the five but certainly doesn't drag the show down.
If you're rolling your eyes over the inclusion of "New York, New York," which is about as obvious and boring a choice for a K&E review as "Send in the Clowns" is for a Sondheim concert, fear not: the song is performed with great wit in five or six different languages. (Listen carefully to the lyrics in the Swedish section.) And "Cabaret" is, uncharacteristically, done very slowly, with interesting use of harmony. As Ebb said after hearing this new arrangement for "Cabaret": "Well, you made the old turkey gobble again."
A better-than-average booklet. The front cover folds out to reveal nine captioned color pix of decent size taken from an actual performance. The back cover has three more of these pix on the inside; on the outside is a picture of the company with Kander and Ebb. There are a couple of pages of credits; a song list with performers and song lengths; and a three-page essay about the creation of this revue by David Thompson, who (with Stroman and Ellis) conceived it. A bit of material about each show would have been nice for newbies, or perhaps a sense of who originally sang some of these songs (e.g., Liza).
This is one of the best revues out there. Period. Anyone interested in show music must get this disc. Anyone who is familiar only with Chicago or Cabaret must get this disc. Anyone who has all of the Kander and Ebb OBCs must get this disc. Anyone who likes even one of the performers in this show must get this disc. Frankly, it's almost impossible to imagine anyone who likes Broadway not liking this disc. Get this disc.
All non-lyric material copyright 2002, D. Aviva Rothschild. All rights reserved
I invite other examples, or comments about the examples above. All submitted material will be properly credited and copyrighted to the submitters. Please see the submissions page for more information.
Or, if you're not in a mood to publish, just let me know your opinion of this page.
Return to Bursting with Song Return to Rational Magic current issue Go back to the Rational Magic home page