Capital City Theatre launches its new season with a musical revue after an 18-month hiatus

When it came to deciding which show to stage after sifting through more than 20 possible shows, the answer proved to be simple and straightforward: Go with a musical revue.
Left to Right: Tyler Symone, Joe Caskey, Erin Burniston, Christine de Frece, Taylor Hilt Mitchell (rehearsing the song “Me and My Baby” (Chicago) from “The World Goes ‘Round”)
Courtesy of Capital City Theatre
Tyler Symone, Joe Caskey, Erin Burniston, Christine de Frece and Taylor Hilt Mitchell (left to right) rehearsing the song “Me and My Baby” (Chicago) from “The World Goes ‘Round.”

When artistic director Andrew Abrams was mulling which show to stage when Capital City Theatre was finally able to welcome audiences back — after more than a year and a half of pandemic shutdown — he and managing director Gail Becker knew they needed something that would uplifting and fun, and also something that wouldn’t involve a huge cast complicated and expensive sets.

Even after sifting through more than 20 possible shows, the answer proved to be simple and straightforward: Go with a musical revue. But not just any musical revue. “And The World Goes Round” — featuring the songs of Broadway impresarios John Kander and Fred Ebb — opens Friday and runs through Oct. 24 in the Overture Center for the Arts’ Playhouse.

Casual Broadway fans likely know Kander and Ebb better than the think they do. These gentlemen gave us “Chicago” and “Cabaret” and a bunch of other solid musicals with which you’re likely less familiar (such as “The Rink” and “Funny Lady”). “And the World Goes Round” features a cast of five national performers singing the 30-song soundtrack, pulled from 11 different shows, including earworms like “All that Jazz,” “Maybe This Time” and “New York, New York.”

“The audience will definitely be singing along in their heads,” predicts Abrams.

What they won’t be doing is watching actors just standing on a stage singing songs, says Abrams. He calls the show “triple threat heavy,” and notes that director/choreographer Stephen Nachamie packed each number with a combination of costume changes, dancing and other gimmicks. There may even be banjo playing.

Abrams has his own personal connections to Kander and Ebb. His first professional tour was for their show “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” a dark and heavy show that nevertheless contains surprisingly poignant tunes (The title song appears in “And the World Goes “Round”).

Tyler Symone, Taylor Hilt Mitchell, Erin Burniston, Joe Caskey and Christine de Frece

Tyler Symone, Taylor Hilt Mitchell, Erin Burniston, Joe Caskey and Christine de Frece (left to right) rehearsing the song “All that Jazz.”

“They wrote a lot of music that was of the time,” says Abrams, referring to the 1920s and ’30s vibe that’s present in “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” “But some of their contemporary stuff, songs like ‘Sometimes A Day Goes By’ and ‘Marry Me’ are just beautiful.”

Abrams’ personal fave — at least for the moment, is the title tune, a song written for Liza Minnelli.

“After all we’ve been through the last year and a half, it really represents what we’ve been through,” he says. “Sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re sad.”

It’s largely been the former for Capital City. The pandemic never came close to shutting the company down permanently — a low number of staff, generous donors and cash from federal and state support programs kept the operation afloat. While the company did have to pay its Equity actors for a planned production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” that fell victim to the pandemic, the Capital City Theatre Conservatory, a theater training and education program continued without a hitch. The Find Your Light summer program for younger actors was held both this summer and in 2020.

For the first time in its six-year history, Capital City is offering a season subscription to its three shows (“And the World Goes Round,” “The Great Comet of 1812” in June 2022 and “Merrily We Roll Along” in August 2022. Apparently, there’ll be a lot of spinning going on between now and 2022.)

Capital City is staging “And the World Goes ‘Round” with several COVID-19 protocols in place. The actors, who have worn masks in all show rehearsals, won’t be masked during the performances, but all audience members must be. They’ll also have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, as well as identification. “It isn’t easy to stage a show this way, but we’re doing it,” says Abrams.

Aaron R. Conklin is a Madison Magazine contributor.

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