SEATTLE -- Anyone who saw And The World Goes 'Round during its initial run Off-Broadway in 1991 is aware that cast members not only need to be able to sing and dance their hearts out to a wide array of songs by Kander and Ebb, but to roller-skate -- to the title song from The Rink.
Apparently the cast of the upcoming production at Center Stage, Seattle's only professional Jewish theatre company, didn't see the show in New York -- and didn't learn of their skating duties until the first day of rehearsals.
Says cast member Lisa Estridge-Gray, "Steve Tomkins [the director/choreographer] didn't ask anyone at auditions whether they could skate, so we were all kind of surprised. He said it hadn't occurred to him that we couldn't. And everyone can, thank goodness, but some are better than others.
"Me? I was a street skater in New York, with those old silver skates that you attached to your shoes. I can still skate, but I can't jump over people anymore. Steve asked, but I just can't make the body do that now!"
Estridge-Gray, one of Seattle's most visible performers, turned down the chance to go to Holland for a week (with the Seattle Children's Theatre's Stellaluna) in order to be in the Kander & Ebb show. "It was a hard choice," she admits, but she decided that And the World Goes 'Round was just too good to pass up, and besides, "I had to work with this cast. Everyone is so stinking good!"
Brad Curtis, Leslie Law, Jeff Church, Karen Kaiser, and Estridge-Gray and John Engerman (the veteran Seattle musical director and composer) are the cast members who will be performing the well-known Kander and Ebb tunes from Cabaret, Woman of the Year, and Chicago, along with some of the less well-known songs from The Happy Time and 70, Girls, 70, as well songs from the films Funny Lady and New York, New York.
After the show closes Estridge-Gray will be heading east for a round of NY auditions.
"I'd like the chance to perform on Broadway," says the actress who earned her Equity card in Seattle and has been seen in everything from the title role in Miss Evers' Boys to Ti Moune in Once on This Island.
Her wish list? "I love Smokey Joe's Cafe. Oh, and Ragtime. That "Wheels of a Dream" song is something else! But for now, I've got other wheels to worry about."
And The World Goes Round previews Feb. 5, opens Feb. 7, and is scheduled to run through Mar. 1. Performances are Thu. and Sun. at 7:30 PM, Sat. at 8 PM and Sun. at 2 PM. Center Stage is located in the Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island. For tickets, $15-$20, call (206) 706-4203.
-- By David-Edward Hughes