Geoffrey Bleeker as Littlechap
Anna Lenhardt (Evie, Anya, Ilse, Ginnie) shown here as Ginnie
Littlechap's Family - grandson (Madelin Whelpley) and Evie (seated) and daughters (standing L to R)Susan (Christina Brillante) and Jane (Gaby Gibson)
The Band - (Front to Back) Lynda Abshire, Karen Warren, Tom Warren
Littlechap with the Chorus (L to R) Carmen Call,Claudia Ortiz, Cheryl Parham, Jennifer Martinez, Sara Sian, Alicia Pedilla and Kat Million
Apr 11-Apr 27, 2003
Musical comedy fans: Go to 'Stop the World'
- By Cheryl Thornburg, Las Cruces Sun News [ Friday, April 18, 2003 pg. C2 ]
If all of the craziness in the world is getting to you and you feel that you'd like to take a break from it all, No Strings Theatre Company has the answer -- at least for a couple of hours. Its current production, "Stop the World I Want To Get Off," may be more than 40 years old, but the music is still captivating and the satire still funny -- and sadly still relevant. Politicians still spout "Mumbo Jumbo" as one song says, and greed and ambition still lead many people away from more important personal things.
The setting is England (and Moscow and Paris and New York) during the Cold War era. It follows the story of Littlechap, a rather randy young man who gets by in the world without much ambition until he meets and falls for Evie, the bosses' daughter. This sets him on an escalating path that gets him all the way to Parliament.
Geoffrey Bleeker plays Littlechap, the role made famous by Anthony Newley. Bleeker is a consummate actor who handles the mime format of many scenes with ease.
He also delivers Newley-esque versions of both the catchy ("Lumbered," "Mumbo Jumbo," "Gonna Build a Mountain") and poignant tunes ("Once in a Lifetime" and "What Kind of Fool Am I").
Pair Bleeker with the charismatic Anna Lenhardt as Evie (and numerous Littlechap mistresses) and you've set the stage for show-stopping laughs and songs that are almost contagious. The melodies kept popping up in my head for days after I saw the show.
Lenhardt, with her dynamic voice and playful comedic approach, is perfect for the role of Evie (and Anya, Ilse and Ginnie). No matter what accent she is using, the lines "My mother said I never should play with anyone in the wood" produce sure-fire laughter from the audience.
The duo is backed up by fine supporting actors: Christina Brillante and Gaby Gibson as Littlechap's daughters, Carmen Call as the announcer and Madelin Whelpley as The Boy. The latter easily captivated the hearts of audience members. Call has some of the funniest lines in the show -- check out her announcement for Flash American Airlines.
Add to the mix the talents of dancers from the New Mexico State University dance program: Jennifer Martinez, Kat Million, Claudia Ortiz, Alicia Padilla, Cheryl Parham and Sara Sian and choreographer Debra Knapp, and you've got a well coordinated and well executed musical comedy.
Despite some minor bobbles of lyrics last Friday (perhaps due to opening night jitters) this production has the usual got-it-all-together feel that has become the hallmark of the Black Box Theatre. It's a great escape -- back to the 60s.
The show is directed by larrychandler with Brandon Brown as assistant director and Lynda Abshire as musical director. Abshire plays the electric piano while Karen and Tom Warren handle keyboard, guitar and special effects. Costumes were designed by Meredith Loring and the sets and lighting by Peter Herman.
Stop the World -- you'll want to get on
- By Gerald M. Kane, Las Cruces Bulletin [ April 17, 2003 ]
Although director larrychandler said he feels the show is dated. I was amazed at the timeliness of the issues addressed in the Leslie Bricusse - Anthony Newley musical "Stop the World I Want to Get Off." now playing on the stage of the Black Box Theatre.
When "Stop the World" opened in London in July. 1961 and subsequently in New York in October, 1962. our country was in the age of "Camelot" and the Kennedys. The world had its challenges and conflicts. Yet the key issues addressed at the heart of this allegorical work still face us today.
The original production was set under a circus tent. Peter Herman's adaptation makes it more of a celestial circus in cloud-like hues.
The main character. Littlechap (read that as "Everyman"). a lowly Tea-man in a London corporate office, marries the boss's daughter. Evie.
He quickly rises in business and politics. On his way to the top, he does a bit of inter national philandering with a Russian. a German and an American on his way up the ladder of professional success. All the women are played by the same woman. That's another message" in this message-filled work. By the play's end. Littlechap and the audience are forced to confront issues of selfishness, altruism and loneliness.
The Black Box production is admirable. Much of the responsibility for moving the show along falls on the shoulders of Geoffrey Bleeker. an ample voiced and quite likeable Littlechap. Anna Lenhardt's feminine foils are varied, strong and well defined. Her voice is lovely.
Others in the ensemble are capable, but the casting of an older and differently dressed "announcer" played enthusiastically by Carmen Call seemed to upset my concept of "ensemble."
larrychandler's direction is sharp and focused. I especially liked how he eases us into the show by taking us where we are and bringing us into the heart of the plot as if by magic.
Debra Knapp's choreography is what we would expect - careful and precise. The ethereal costumes by Meredith Loring are just fine. Peter Herman's set and lighting design are, as always, perfect.
The show is peppered with many humable songs, three of which have remained standards "Gonna Build a Mountain," "Once in a Lifetime," and the ever-popular "What Kind of Fool Am I?"
At a time when our world is in turmoil and so many of us are seeking answers to questions of how to lead a more meaningful life, "Stop the World I Want to Get Off" gives us a powerful message in a sugar-coated way.
No seating plan has been posted.