Review: The World Goes 'Round at the MAC, Belfast

Stephanie McConville in The World Goes Round at the MAC, Belfast 
Jane Hardy


The World Goes ‘Round



THE MAC’s idea of transforming their ground-floor theatre space into a smoky boite, the so called Luminaire Club, is a sound one.

Sitting at round tables at last night’s launch show, The World Goes ‘Round, we were treated to Kander and Ebb’s finest work in a tribute to what you might call the Broadway songbook.

Starting with the title song, The World Goes ‘Round, you knew from the moment Carolyn Maitland unleashed her glorious voice on the moody space (thanks, dry ice!) this revue was going to be a real treat. Her rich soprano vocals are stunning, popular but with classical weight. She embraced the sad, philosophical lyric – “Sometimes you’re happy, sometimes you’re sad/ But the world goes round” – with charm and the right amount of world weariness.

John Kander and Fred Ebb were known for their mid-20th century work and this show revealed their best qualities. A New York knowingness comes into play with comic numbers like Arthur in the Afternoon. Aveen Biddle gave a delightfully manic performance of the song covered by Liza Minelli among others.

Sounding like a baby Ethel Merman, she belted out her joy at finding the ultimate cure to the suburban housewife’s depress. That is, coffee in the morning, brandy in the evening and “Arthur in the afternoon”. She leapt, squeaked and almost brought the house down.

We got a fabulous account of a song that’s almost a tribute to the Great British Bake-off, the guy in love with the eponymous cake-making poster girl, Sara Lee. Conor McFarlane, with drooping moustache, made this tragi-comic piece both touching and lol. Then we heard classic belters like All that Jazz, given a truly sexy outing by chanteuse Stephanie McConville plus bowler, spangly hot pants and come-hither voice.

Although not a few of the songs in the show devised in the 90s by Scott Ellis and Susan Stroman were downbeat, of the now he’s gone variety, the mood was, thanks to the spunky music and ace choreography from Sarah Johnston, upbeat. This MAC-Blunt Fringe production was the business and runs until September 15.

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