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Around the World a summer treat
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Around the World in 80 Days
Taproot Theatre
Through June 20


The title, Around the World in 80 Days, tells you almost everything you need to know about the current production at Taproot Theatre. It's a fun, fast adaptation of the book by Jules Verne, done by Mark Brown. If you look closely, you might even be able to see the handlebar mustache on the bad guy (Detective Fix) and the girl on the railroad tracks that needs saving (Aouda) and the guy to the rescue (Phileas Fogg).

Scott Nolte directs five actors, most of whom you have seen on Taproot's stage in the recent past. Ryan Childers plays Phileas Fogg with aplomb. He is dapper and blindly analytical. Fogg mounts this improbable journey on a bet. Since it's set in 1872, it's a pretty risky bet.

He is joined by a faithful (French) servant, played to the farcical hilt by Nolan Palmer (last seen as Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie). You can almost smell the French bread. Bill Johns is the almost bad guy, Detective Fix, who thinks Fogg is a gentrified robber and that's why he has all that cash to go around the world. Johns and Palmer have good chemistry together as they carry most of the comic timing. Fix keeps trying to arrest Fogg on British territory, but the arrest warrant does not quite get there in time.

Alyson Scadron Branner plays the beauteous Aouda, and beauteous she is. She is rescued and, of course, ends up falling in love with Fogg. Maybe because he's the only man around for weeks and months!

Rounding out the cast and providing a dozen and a half other characters is Andrew Litzky, who has to manage a bevy of accents and costumes as they all rush around trying to beat the clock. Litzky and Johns, who also helps with a few other characters, don a parade of hats and wigs, many obviously "fake" looking - for laughs, as they become waiters, porters, elephant owners, narrator, sloop captain, etc.

Nolte plays this tongue-in-cheek, with some very funny moments in boats and trains, depicted by all the actors on stage swaying in unison. Quite a nice effect. There are a couple of very adroit physical moves, including one where Johns is supposed to be running to catch a train and is pulled on to the "moving" train.

Set and sound are perfectly done by Mark Lund. Costumes are luscious, as provided by Sarah Burch Gordon. Dramaturge Ian Klein "sounds" like he did a good job of helping the actors get myriad numbers of accents right.

This is a summer cotton candy. It's not "meaningful" or "educational," but it's a slickly done, good-looking production. Anyone will like it, even your critical grandma. For more information, go to www.taproottheatre.org or call 206-781-9707.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.
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