Stop the World—I Want to Get Off is not one of those musicals that pops up frequently on local stages. But the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre has made something of a habit of it, opening the theater 40 years ago with a production and reprising it a couple of decades later. Now it’s back once more, and audiences who’ve never seen it or have fond memories of the earlier shows may want to put it on their schedule.
For those of a certain age who are familiar with some of the songs of the show—What Kind of Fool Am I? , Once in A Lifetime, Gonna Build A Mountain—but a little rusty on the details, here goes. Stop the World, which originally bowed in London 50 years ago, is by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and Newley originally played the main character, an Everyman named Littlechap, on his journey from birth to death. His tale is told in what was, then, at least, an unusual style for a Broadway musical: Littlechap (Steve Dawson) and his eventual wife, Evie (Kyle Ennis Turoff), wear white mime make-up and are surrounded by a circus troupe wearing motley costumes, and pantomime is intertwined with more realistic acting moments throughout the piece.
Littlechap, who starts out at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, is a lad on his way up, and if that means occasionally caddish behavior, so be it. After all, he’s not exactly happy when forced to marry Evie after getting her pregnant—although it’s a beneficial surprise when he finds out that his boss is Evie’s father. And he’s certainly not faithful to her or attentive to the two daughters he has with her; he wants money and position while he’s alive, and a son to carry on after he’s gone. It’s only late in life that he can look back and see the mistakes he’s made and the chances he’s missed to be truly happy.
It’s fortunate that Dawson, who’s a natural at mime moves and expression, is always an engaging enough performer to keep us watching him despite his character’s less than admirable actions. He’s also got a terrific voice showcased on some of those familiar tunes, which he delivers with panache.
He’s matched by Turoff, who not only plays Evie but the Russian Anya, German Ilse and American Ginnie with whom Littlechap dallies along the way. With the doff of a hat and the change of an accent, she’s convincing and funny in each role. And the chorus, consisting of Mary Burns, Delores Elizabeth McKenzie, Heather Kopp, Ellie Pattison, Kathryn Parks and Vera Samuels (with brief appearances by young Aiden Pearson) provides able and varied support for the leads.
Director Bob Trisolini has staged the show well, lending pleasing energy to ensemble numbers and moving the action along swiftly while glossing over some of the more dated aspects of the original. Stop the World continues through Aug. 7; for tickets call 366-5454 or go to thegoldenapple.com.