.Two North Bay productions keep the merriment going

North Bay theaters ring out the old and welcome in the New Year with music and comedy. The World Goes ‘Round to the beat of Broadway show tunes at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater while Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse is Fully Committed to bringing the laughs. Both shows run through Jan. 5.

You’re probably more familiar with the works of the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb than you realize. Responsible for the lyrics and music for Broadway hits like Cabaret and Chicago, The World Goes ‘Round is a musical revue featuring most of their best-known works.

There’s no plot, just five performers (Aja Gianola-Norris, Anna Joham, Adam Niemann, Brandy Noveh and Kevin Singer) and three musicians (Musical Director Mike Greensill, Steven Hoffman and John Shebalin) performing two dozen or so Kander and Ebb songs. Each song is a story unto itself, with director/choreographer Clark Sterling bringing a light touch and inventive movement to songs that range from the amusing “Sara Lee” to the melancholy “Mr. Cellophane” to the rousing “New York, New York.”

Delivered in an intimate, cabaret-style setting via a talented ensemble that’s fully committed to entertaining their audience, it’s a very pleasant evening of musical theater full of delightful characterizations and terrific vocals.

Fully Committed is also the high-falutin’ term a tony Manhattan restaurant prefers to use when telling potential patrons they’re totally booked.

Meet Sam (Patrick Varner), a struggling New York actor whose daytime job consists of taking reservations from the hoi polloi hoping to get a good table at a New York eatery known for its “molecular gastronomy.” It’s the type of restaurant that serves “smoked cuttlefish risotto in a cloud of dry ice infused with pipe tobacco.”

Tucked in the basement, Sam juggles the reservation lines, a staff intercom, a “hot” line to the chef and his cell phone while he engages in conversations with the crème-de-la-crème of New York society, his absent coworker, his demanding boss and his father (who’s hoping he can come home for Christmas).

Varner is a whirling dervish as he takes on 40-some characters and gives them each a personality and a voice. It takes a bit of getting used to visually, but buy into it and it’s a fun 90 minutes.

Rating for both (out of 5): ★★★★

‘The World Goes ‘Round’ runs through Jan. 5 at Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. Fri–Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. $30–$75. 707.763.8920. cinnabartheater.com

‘Fully Committed’ runs through Jan. 5 on the Monroe Stage at 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. Sixth St., Santa Rosa. Thu–Sat, 7:30pm; Sat–Sun, 2pm. $18–$29. 707.523.4185. 6thstreetplayhouse.com


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