Director David Saar, founder and artistic director of Childsplay, has added another winner to his Arizona Theatre Company moonlighting credits by pulling together a remarkable creative team and cast who make World come-to-life just as playwright Mark Brown intended.
Based on Jules Verne’s novel set in the late 19th Century, Phileas Fogg makes a hefty wager with fellow members at a private men’s club that he can circle the world in a shade over nineteen-hundred hours. Joined by his French manservant Passepartout (the last “t” is silent), the pair leave London to prove Fogg’s claim and of course meet an array of humorously colorful characters along the way.
As Fogg, Mark Anders sets the stage much like Richard Hannay in Patrick Barlow’s play The 39 Steps. One could imagine that Barlow shared inkwells with Brown, just as Verne must have been inspired by world travelers Edmond Planchut, George Francis Train, and William Perry Fogg in his own time.
Childsplay-mates Jon Gentry, Yolanda London and Kyle Sorrell shine on stage. Gentry’s Passepartout has precise comedic timing befitting his stature petite, London is a joy to watch in more roles than you can shake a Sikh at, and Sorrell is a consummate quick-change artist.
Bob Sorenson (ATC’s answer to Ryan Styles) underplays his opening role in the Reform Club, but breaks out as Detective Fix and even has his own photo-match page in the program to advocate his versatility.
Helping make this play a team success is the protean scenic design by Carey Wong, costumes by Karen Ledger, lighting by David Cuthbert, sound design by Brian Peterson and projections by Gregory Towle.
Everyone involved in this production of Around the World in 80 Days makes it a trip worth taking.
• 1873 – Jules Verne’s novel is published in both French and English
• 1938 – Orson Welles plays Fogg in an Mercury Theatre adaptation for CBS Radio
• 1946 – Welles produces a loosely adapted musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter
• 1956 – David Niven stars as Fogg in the cameo-chocked Hollywood film version
• 1963 – The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze as Fogg’s mensch-servants
• 1988 – A musical with songs by Ray Davies of The Kinks opens in San Diego
• 1989 – NBC-TV presents a three-part miniseries starring Pierce Brosnan as Fogg
• 2001 – Mark Brown adapts the book for five actors to portray 39 characters on stage
• 2004 – Steven Coogan plays Fogg in the film starring Jackie Chan as Passepartout
• 2013 – IT&M Shows publishes a musical composed by Piers Chater Robinson