By: Patrick E. Phillips
This holiday season, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s current musical production of “Around the World in 80 Days” takes audiences on a dazzling joyride that evokes the holiday spirit.
Brilliant, gentlemanly Phileas Fogg and his charismatic valet Passepartout are on a journey to circumvent the globe before the year is out with £20,000 on the line. Throughout their travels they are pursued by Scotland Yard’s Inspector Fix, confronted train robbers and forced into sumo wrestling matches.Along the way, Fogg falls in love with Aouda, an Indian princess, and learns to appreciate life outside of his library.
D. Lynn Meyers’ direction adeptly emphasized Fogg’s race against time. The cast’s rigid clock-like movements and the swift scene changes made sure the production never slowed down.
Internationally renowned puppeteer Joe Kovacs added his own visual flair to the production by creating a herd of buffalo, a Chinese parade dragon and even a full-sized Indian elephant. Kovacs greatly helps create the magic of the production.
Ken Early’s Fogg was filled with passion. During “Take Me Around the World,”Early not only showed off his powerful voice, but he also depicted Fogg’s awe of the wonders of the world. Torie Wiggin’s Aouda had charismatic joy that brought heart to Aouda and Fogg’s relationship.
As Passepartout, Michael G. Bath stole the show. With impeccable timing and excellent physical comedy, Bath hardly said a line that didn’t have the audience roaring with laughter.
Although the reason behind Fogg’s journey is not explicitly expressed, the fun of his travels more than makes up for the lack of complete audience comprehension.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is having a great time this holiday season with “Around the World in 80 Days.” With spot-on comedy and fast-paced adventure, “Around the World in 80 Days” is a must-see.