In truth, The Mister and I were not expecting much. A local theater troupe singing 29 songs (!) non-stop in a revue? Furthermore, it was a dark and rainy night, and this critic was fighting a cold as we made our way to the Southampton Cultural Center. Everything was set for her to have her grumpy hat on.
But hats off to director Michael Disher and musical director Karen Hochstedler for “The World Goes ’Round,” two hours that chased away all the blues with sunshine and toe-tapping—and, for a moment, even tears. The songs of the night were those of John Kander and Fred Ebb, two geniuses who wrote the melodies and lyrics to some of the most memorable musical theater of the last several decades. And the “local” talent Mr. Disher found was first-rate.
With just four huge silver swaths of cloth as a backdrop, minimal props—stools and coffee cups—and the cast simply dressed in black, the troupe put on an effervescent evening of song and dance. And while the production numbers amplified the 10 voices into a chorus that sounded like many more—giving verve to numbers such as “New York, New York” and “Money, Money” from “Cabaret,” as well as the show’s eponymous tune—a handful of the individual performances were absolute stand-outs.
Holly Marie Dunn singing “Colored Lights” from a mostly forgotten musical, “The Rink,” was the first real surprise. She was, simply put, outstanding. The Mister nudges me, and The Mister—a basso profundo—knows music. “That’s a great voice” he says, sotto voce. As if I could have missed that.
Don’t know where Holly hails from, but we quickly learn she starred in the first national tour of “Shout, The Mod Musical” and has appeared in theater in and around New York. Fortunately, she returned to sing “Maybe This Time,” one of the hits of “Cabaret” that tugs at the heartstrings of anyone who’s ever lost in love, and Ms. Dunn made sure it tugged mine.
Jaclyn Randazzo executed “My Coloring Book” with real feeling, and brought tears to my Mister’s eyes. Ms. Randazzo’s clear and mellow voice suits that kind of sad song perfectly. It came as no surprise to learn she has studied music for years both here and abroad. Happily, Ms. Randazzo had another solo, “A Quiet Thing,” from “Flora, The Red Menace.”
Then it was my turn for tears, elicited unexpectedly by Jack Seabury’s rendition of “I Don’t Remember You” from “The Happy Time,” a musical that debuted on Broadway in long-ago 1968. The song was unfamiliar; the emotional chord Mr. Seabury struck was poignant and full of longing for a lost love. He has extensive musical credits in Manhattan and elsewhere. I’d go see him anywhere—he has a real gift.
His resonant baritone has considerable range, which he knows how to modulate beautifully. Fortunately, Mr. Seabury has several numbers in the revue, including that of the delightfully decadent emcee in the production number of “Cabaret,” which the troupe sang and danced their way through with panache.
Paired with sultry Edna Winston, Mr. Seabury also sang “Kiss of the Spider Woman” from the musical of the same name. The song-and-dance number showcased the sexiness of Ms. Winston; one wishes she might just let go and be even more overtly sensual in all her numbers. When you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Mary Sabo gave a dynamic, fun rendering of “Me and My Baby” from “Chicago,” and followed that up with strong interpretations of “Only Love” from “Zorba” and “Isn’t This Better” from “Funny Lady.” Ms. Sabo has musical training—but not much performance experience—yet here she had full command of the stage. Even in the chorus numbers she stood out, for she was the one your eyes gravitated to. We look forward to seeing more of Ms. Sabo.
Isabel Alvarez added the right touch of sauciness to singing and dancing as Sally Bowles in the “Cabaret” number, with her lithe and leggy body perfectly suited to the role of the down-and-out artiste. And she happily held her own against the aforementioned Ms. Dunn and Ms. Randazzo in a spirited rendition of “There Goes the Ball Game” from “New York, New York.”
Others who made up the cast were Richard Adler, Sharon Mulvaney, Josephine Wallace and Kyle Sherlock, who sang two numbers and did double duty playing various instruments on the synthesizer.
Lest you think that local musical theater means taped music, not true in this case. In addition to Mr. Sherlock, Ms. Hochstedler was on piano, stage right but unseen, and David Elliott on drums behind her.
Even when you start with great songs, many things can go wrong. Not so here. Unless you’re tone deaf, you’ll walk away singing a tune. Overall, the evening was an unadulterated delight, and the two hours (with intermission) flew by. “Local” talent indeed. Well, we are the Hamptons.
One hopes the locals take notice.
“The World Goes ’Round” will stage on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m., through November 9, at the Southampton Cultural Center. Tickets are $25, $23 for seniors on Fridays, and $12 for children. For more information, call (631) 287-4377 or visit scc-arts.org.