Michael Starr viewed “Gigi,” one of the original Reprise company’s final shows, as a student.
Now, the alumnus will star in Reprise 2.0’s production of “The World Goes ‘Round.”
Opening Sept. 5 at the Ralph Freud Playhouse, the rendition of the 1991 musical is the second of three shows comprising the theater company’s inaugural season. The musical consists of songs from various shows written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, such as “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” It also includes some of their lesser-known work, following Reprise 2.0′s trend of producing musicals that are rarely revived. Though it does not follow one linear plot, Starr said the musical instead weaves together the songs to showcase the variety of emotional states Kander and Ebb’s work exhibits.
“The great thing about ‘The World Goes ‘Round’ is that it’s all about showing the audience that we’re all in this together,” Starr said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and we help each other through it.”
To piece together songs from multiple musicals, Starr said the narrative focuses on an assortment of character types, with the alum taking on multiple personas, such as a young ingenue, a handsome boy next door and a man coping with heartbreak. Starr said Kander’s and Ebb’s candor in writing about the human experience allows for the audience to relate with the characters. One scene that stands out to Starr is when he duets with alumnus Larry Cedar, during which he sings “I Don’t Remember You” from “Happy Times” and Cedar sings “Sometimes a Day Goes By” from “Woman of the Year.” The medley features two men lamenting their recent breakups with their girlfriends, and their denial towards the situation. Starr said the merging of the two songs allows the audience to relate to the characters, as they emphasize their emotional responses.
Director Richard Israel said the duet, though featuring songs from different musicals, focuses on the same human intention: to overcome isolation. The songs featured in the musical focus on specific human experiences, such as heartbreak and celebration, to exemplify the fact that the world continues to go on, Israel said.
“It brings to the forefront that we all are human beings and we all have feelings of regret and we all have feelings of joy. We all are missing something in our lives, and we all are celebrating something in our lives,” Israel said. “I think all of these songs on some level just remind us that we’re just looking for companionship.”
Producing artistic director Marcia Seligson said the company does not present more well-known musicals, such as “Cats” or “My Fair Lady,” because productions of such shows have been performed extensively around the world. Instead, they aim to feature rarely revived musical theater classics.
“The World Goes ‘Round” itself features many lesser-known treasures from musical theater, Starr said. Though many may be familiar with the songs from shows like “Cabaret,” the musical will expose audiences to many of Kander and Ebb’s more obscure works, such as “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “The Rink,” Starr said. Looking back on musical theater history allows them to expose audiences to music they might not be familiar with, expanding their appreciation to other shows.
“I think there’s something about the idea of doing these lesser-known shows and these pieces of history that gets lost in some of the musical theater done around the world today,” Starr said. “There’s so many moments in ‘The World Goes ‘Round‘ where a song was written before you were born but you can listen to it now and completely relate to what the writers were saying.“