By Elizabeth Youngman Westphal
Special to Village News 

'Around the World in 80 Days' is a wonderful adventure

 

Last updated 11/20/2019 at 12:40am

Darren Scott photo

Naidu, played by Alexander X Guzman; Passepartout, played by Audrey Eytchison, and Philias Fogg, played by Frankie Alicea-Ford, in "Around the World in 80 Days" is now playing at New Village Arts in Carlsbad.

In 1869, the French travel publication Le Tour du monde printed a story suggesting, after the completion of a 140-mile stretch of railway between Allahabad and Mumbai, India, with the right connections and forethought, one could in fact travel around the world in a mere 80 days.

It was this outrageous concept that sparked the mind of Jules Verne, the "Father of Science Fiction." In the New Village Art's program centerfold, the not-to-be missed itinerary outline for this wonderful adventure is listed.

Naturally, only a member of England's prestigious Reform Club could complete a voyage of this scale, and Phileas Fogg bets half of his wealth that he is the man to do it. Fogg is played with alacrity by veteran actor Frankie Alicea-Ford.

Alicea-Ford is able to depict Fogg's precise regularity while exposing his humanity. With a clear voice, Alicea-Ford finds Fogg's soul and breathes life into in his songs.

While this musical is an ambitious undertaking for a small theater with a tiny stage, the creative team at New Village Arts deserves applause. Just when it would appear to be a flutter of confusion onstage, the scene transposes in front of your eyes as all is righted when the adventure continues.


By the way, property master Cassie Langan deserves high praise for her exceptional work on this project. Doubtless, she suffers acute trepidation as she dresses the stage before each performance.

Making sense of the ongoing silliness is a wee cast of characters. Only four members rarely leave view as they transfer from one escapade to the next. These talented performers deserve recognition.

In alphabetical order they are Alexander X. Guzman who can walk on his hands and juggle, Rae Henderson, Jasmine January and Olivia Pence. This quartet does split-second changeups in full view without a misstep, each earning a star on their dressing room doors.

Adding to the nonsense are walk-on performers Rachel Ford and Reid Moriarty as Reform Club members who were pulled from the NVA Mainstage Players. Kudos to both.

Contributing to the singing madness is Audrey Eytchison. She plays Passepartout, Fogg's valet and man-of-all-work. Sporting a tiny mustache, Eytchison brawls and contorts while still delivering tea at the appointed hour. This scrappy gal performs with lots of zing and power.

As it happens when Fogg travels through India by train, he discovers a widow about to be tossed onto her husband's funeral fire. Fogg saves the day when he asks Kamana Aouda, played by Farah Dinga, to join him in his travels until he can get her to her Canadian cousins. Miss Dinga moves seamlessly from sari to Victorian attire as she develops into Fogg's love interest.


And then there is Inspector Fix who must have trained under France's most revered Inspector Clouseau. A. J. Knox envelops his character without a speck of dignity. His performance is faultless.

The Shantyannes turned the timeless classic "Around the World in 80 Days" into a musical. This talented foursome not only wrote original music and lyrics, they also play at the performances.

They call themselves a "four-piece, rag-tag musical troupe" and humbly go by Joe, Renee, Kelly and Billy. But what they are is musical geniuses. Along with musical director Tony Houck on keyboards, they all make up the onstage pirate band that blends into the set. One of their standout songs is performed by Inspector Fix when he forswears to "Chase You Around the World."

Kristianne Kurner directs Laura Eason's adaptation. The show is delightfully choreographed by Jenna Ingrassia-Knox. Becky Goodman is the designer of lighting and Violet Ceja provided the sound working hand in hand with Tanya Orellana who imagined the interactive sets.

Other behind the scenes fairies include dialect coach Gerilyn Brault, Rosalee Barrientos as stage manager, Jonah Gercke as the projection designer and Trevor Rex as the assistant choreographer.

This madcap production will run until Dec. 22, at New Village Arts at 2787 State Street in Carlsbad Village. Free parking is right behind the theater in the Coaster station parking lot.

For those who read my bimonthly column "Kicking It," you will appreciate why my husband suggests arriving early to enjoy one of this year's season sponsors, Handel's Ice Cream, across the street from NVA. Be prepared for long lines.

For tickets, call the box office at (760) 433-3245 or visit http://www.newvillagearts.org. The show is over 2 1/2 hours plus a 15-minute intermission. Dress comfortably.

Out of 10 this show is rated 9++.

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached by email at [email protected]

Inspector Fix, played by A.J. Knox, prepares detectives, played by Alexander X Guzman, Rae Henderson and Olivia Pence, to track the robber of the London Bank.

 

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