‘The World is Round’ at Brooklyn Academy of Music

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By Marcina Zaccaria

 

‘The World is Round’ is a refreshing, sometimes exhilarating play with music conceived, written, and directed by Rachel Dickstein.  It is produced by Ripe Time.

The company takes Gertrude Stein’s ‘The World is Round,’ a fable, and creates an energetic, breathtaking theatrical performance.  The play features music and lyrics by Heather Christian.

The repetition of Gertrude Stein’s words never sound tedious.  As the ensemble sings lyrics like “A Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” the play discusses what happens when the world, stars, moon, and sun get rounder and rounder.  Rose rises above her daily challenges and struggles.  As she reaches higher, she finds self-actualization in the skies, appearing in a hoop at the top of the theater.

Kristen Sieh’s ambition in the show is particularly inspiring, and performances by the ensemble cast are gutsy and strong overall.  The cast also features Grace McClean as RoseRoseRose, Blake DeLong as RoseManLion, and Hannah Heller as RoseWillieRose.  The cast in ‘The World is Round’ is accompanied by live drums, guitar, and piano, and the music by Heather Christian is uplifting.  Christian worked on ‘Mission Drift’ that was nominated for a Drama League Outstanding Performance Award.

Embracing 70s rock, contemporary opera, and revival gospel music, the show features explosive sounds that blend perfectly with the visuals onstage.  The harmonies and orchestrations make the show a great listen.  Wild animals, particularly a lion, are mentioned in the text, and onstage performances feature some of the best of circus arts.  The performers take the stage with grace, and their attention to detail doesn’t fail to impress.  Performers climb, balance, and juggle.

OBIE Award winner Mimi Lien designs an effortless spare set.  Ilona Somogyi designed the simple blue, purple, and white costumes.  Lighting is by Jiyoun Chang, and Jane Shaw is the sound designer.  Projections by Hannah Wasileski are key to the production.  A backdrop of blues, and whites and purples light up the upstage space.  The challenging aerial movement, choreographed by Nicki Miller, is visually strong.  It is a great moment when Rose ascends with a small blue chair on her back and climbs a rope and ladder, singing high from the ceiling of the theater.

Ripe Time, founded in 2000, develops and presents ensemble-based theatre with “rich language, visual power, and physical rigor.”  Ripe Time explores themes of money, power, and ambition.

The show is running until April 30th at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  BAM’s Fisher Theater is located at 321 Ashland Place in Brooklyn.  Tickets can be purchased at www.bam.org/theworldisround or by calling 866-811-4111.

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