Get ready for the inner child in you to come out and play!
the songs of Kander & Ebb
“You can only do so much rehearsing, a show is never really what it can be until you get in front of an audience. It’s not a monologue, it’s a conversation with the audience.” – Peter Gosik
“Fabulous, not a dog in the bunch.” – Al Churilla
Any show that brings out the inner child in me is a hit in my book. Everything in this musical revue is exaggerated making me feel like I just opened up a pop-up story book, the kind that surprises you with each turn of the page. When you don’t want a show to end, you know you’ve got a hit on your hands!
Florida Studio Theatre is located in the heart of downtown Sarasota on Palm Avenue. With a parking garage not even a block away and the brand new Gompertz Theatre, there is no excuse to only look at this place from afar. Part of the ambiance of the theatre is the excitement that builds up before hand. Inside, The Green Room Cafe & Bar is the place to meet for a bite to eat and a cocktail before heading to your seats, you can dine inside the lovely brick decor or outside on the raised patio overlooking downtown. It’s open two hours prior to the show and immediately following the matinee performances.
It’s Opening Night and upon entering the packed theatre I can’t help but feel special thanks to Molly Clancy, Public Relations Associate who so graciously put me and my guest, Susan Short in the 2nd row front and center (the best seats in the house B12 & 13). Any seat in this gorgeous theatre would be considered amazing. “It’s such an intimate house. I love the rake of the audience, you’re not so high that your judgemental, but you got a nice view of the stage.” Gabriel Barre, Director tells me. “Our designer took great advantage of that with the words on the floor and I love how intimate it feels with the warmth of the brick walls.”
I am taken by the simplicity of the stage design, yet how uplifting it is with words that inspire and lighting that enhances its character. Barre tells me its the first musical in the new space and he’s impressed how solid the sound is, I have to agree – the beauty of the theatre is when everything is in perfect sync allowing you to enjoy the show and not have to worry about anything but the show.
The show consists of five brand new performers to the FST stage, three women and two men and an exposed band that sits on a riser towards the back of the stage. John Kander and Fred Ebb’s songs are filled with humor, romance, dance and drama celebrating life. “It’s a rare team, “ says Barre “it’s sad Mr. Fred Ebb died in 2006 so John Kandar has been working with other lyricists. To see the longevity of their materials and poignancy never ceases to hit me.”
You may be familiar with some of their songs from the musical “Chicago” or “Cabaret” and the song “New York New York,” but they wrote many songs that didn’t get as much notoriety; those songs are featured in this revue such as, “The Rink,” “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup,” “Sara Lee,” “Arthur in the Afternoon,” “Class” and one of my favorites, “Mr. Cellophane.”
What brings these songs to life and make you giddy like a child aside from the expressive acting, are the props. I spoke to Alison Gondek who worked on the props, “A lot of them are bizarre, somethings you can go out and buy or we have in stock, but there are things that are more difficult to come up with.” she tells me her favorite prop, “The large spatulas for the song Sara Lee was fun and challenging. We did a lot of carving out of wood and painting. I haven’t done much with wood before this, so trying to make something tell-tale out of what it’s not, was fun for me.” The props were life-like and had you laughing out loud, things like the gigantic Starbucks latte, a wooden plane with a space for your face and a rolling cloud, these are just a few.
With so much happening on stage choreography is important. DJ Gray flew in from New York to work on this project. Previously she worked on, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change, and was invited back to FST to join Barre. “I go into the studio by myself and work up the steps, as you saw there was one number that was a six-minute tap dance, “ Gray tells me, “For every minute it takes me an hour – it was a six-hour process. For tap, it’s mathematical. When I got here I worked with the dancer and had to see what their abilities were, so everything I pre-choreographed didn’t exactly fit.” One of Gray’s favorite numbers was, “Me and My Baby,” because it was a new concept. Her advice to anyone wanting to walk in her shoes, “Work with as many choreographers as you can musically as a dancer. Find them, follow and assist them. That’s how you get into the business, by assisting.”
Every performer was outstanding, however Peter Gosik stood out to me and was as close to Josh Groban as you can get with their similarities (looks and voice). Gosik originally from St. Louis, MO now living in New York, started singing and performing before he was old enough to stand and talk. “I never played sports as a kid, “ he tells me at the after party, “I would be on the side lines standing on the picnic tables and singing at all the spectators.” His favorite part of the show, “I am from more of a singing background and in Act 2 I get to do Kiss of the Spider Woman and the trio with me and two girls.” Although he strives for Broadway he understands you have to work your way up and is grateful for the work he has now. His last performance allowed him to spend a year in China working on stage.
Although you may have seen The World Goes ‘Round ten years ago, or ten years prior to that, Gabriel Barre, Director says, “Each song is like a one-act play in my mind. Sometimes we are using the context of the songs kind of like the shows they’re from, often times we are changing them into a completely new context, like Me and My Baby.” Barre goes on to say, “I like to do new things with the same materials so people who have seen the show see them in different form. Like the arrangement from Cabaret, which is so beautiful. It’s nothing like the should sounds like in the show.” He also believes this revue is ready for The World Goes ‘Round 2.
There is so much I can tell you about this show, but the best I can do for you is to encourage you to go see it. “The talent was incredible, I was very impressed, “ says Daureen Gutterman, “I don’t usually like revue type shows, but this was thoroughly entertaining.” “Just as good as the people on the CD which I have at home, a fabulous job,” Garry Gutterman tells me in the lobby after the show. “The energy and the length of the show was exciting and entertaining, “ Sherry Churilla who frequents the theatre, she says it could be her absolute favorite show of this season.
As for Susan Short she agreed with me, “Peter Gosik is fabulous, adorable – I love the tonality of his voice. From the singing and dancing this show is entertaining.” FST is a theatre that is inviting, cozy and according to Molly Clancey, Public Relations Associate; “Our Sarasota audience always has fun. They are always so upbeat and enthusiastic. We have more people in the winter, but the audience that came out today was really strong.”
If you get the chance to go to any of the Opening Night events at FST, go. After the performance guests are invited to mingle with the cast, dine on light bites and take photographs. Often performers from the surrounding theatres stop by to celebrate and support their fellow thespians. On this particular evening the cast of Pulse came by after their show at the Asolo Rep. It’s a great way for theatre lovers, and aspiring entertainers to get to know these people more personally.
FST keeps their audiences engaged through several media outlets including social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They also cater to students offering discounts and to the general public you can purchase three shows for $39 which is $13 per show, a bargain if you ask me. The World Goes Round is playing from May 31st – June 23rd. Head to floridastudiotheatre.org for the schedule or call the box office at 941.366.9000.