In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of ‘The World Goes ‘Round’ at Creative Cauldron, meet Harv Lester and Katie McManus.
Joel: Tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on our local stages in the past year.
Harv: Well, you did not see me on stage in Signature Theatre’s recent production of The Fix, for which I understudied three roles. Those Fix actors all stayed so healthy, dang it! Beyond that, I was fortunate enough this past year to participate in a trio of new musicals: Visible Language, which mixed deaf and hearing actors in a story about the development of deaf education in America, presented by WSC Avant Bard in a theater at Gallaudet University; Truth the Musical, a new musical about Sojourner Truth that premiered at THEARC in Anacostia (with the hopes of a future life), with a director based in London, a producer from New England, and an incredibly talented cast of actors from New York and Washington; and Family Portrait, a thirty-minute musical presented by a new local area professional group, the DC Music Theatre Workshop, that also starred one of my current cast mates and friends, Katie McManus.
Katie: I was in Creative Cauldron’s production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris last year.
Have you ever appeared in another production of The World Goes ‘Round?
Harv: I’ve never previously been in a production of The World Goes ‘Round, but I was lucky enough to see a 2004 production of the show at Round House Theatre, with a cast that included the great Jane Pesci-Townsend. I loved that production – there were many very funny and memorable moments in it – but I think that our show is a different take on these songs. The Round House production was in a big theater – I was sitting up in the balcony – and the actors were playing to a big house.
Our production is much more intimate and focused on the meaning of the songs themselves. We are in a small black box, and we can see all of the people in the audience as we perform and can make personal connections with them, at least for a few moments. I think that our show provides more of a great opportunity for the audience to connect to the lyrics and the meaning of the wonderful songs that John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote and that are showcased here.
I’ve previously done a couple of “song cycle” shows: a musical revue celebrating the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein as well as that of Andrew Lloyd Webber (seemingly an odd mix of music at first glance, but it worked), and a solo-performer song cycle called Songs from an Unmade Bed that I did at the Capital Fringe Festival two years ago. The thing that I find really interesting about shows that present a series of songs, without much if any dialogue, is how the audience can feel a story develop through a presentation of songs that may (when written) have been completely unrelated. When those unrelated songs are presented in succession by actors on a stage, they can create a mood or a feeling that, as you are listening and watching, affects you.
Katie: Nope! First time!
You all have your ‘big numbers’ in the show. Tell us about them and what the audiences learn about your characters when you are singing them.
I have the title song, which opens the show. I think that song sets the theme of the show that, no matter what happens, good or bad, life goes on and “the planet spins and the world goes ’round and ’round.”
What song is your favorite in the show that you sing and why?
Katie: I like singing “How Lucky Can You Get.” It’s fun to sing vocally, and the song starts as one thing, but ends as another.
What song that someone else sings is your favorite and why?
Harv: I love Katie McManus’ opening number, “And the World Goes ‘Round.” She belts that song in a way that is at once both warm and powerful, and it sets the tone for the rest of the show, telling the audience that it should have high expectations for what is to come. Katie totally kills it!
Katie: This is a tough question. I love most of the songs, but I suppose I’ve always been partial to “Maybe This Time” (and Carli nails it). I pretty much love any song from Cabaret.
What were some of the challenges and joys you had in rehearsals?
Harv: We had two-and-a-half weeks in which to put the entire show together, from learning the songs (including some difficult five-part harmonies) to putting them on their feet.
Katie: Challenge: really short rehearsal period (like, really short). Joy: The people involved, hands down.
How does the performance space at Creative Cauldron contribute to the production?
Katie: It’s definitely an intimate space, which this particular show needs.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing The World Goes ‘Round?
Katie: Hopefully they’ve discovered a few more songs and shows!
For those readers and theatregoers who have never heard of or visited, Creative Cauldron tell then about it and what makes Creative Cauldron so special to you.
Katie: Creative Cauldron is definitely a family; a warm and welcoming creative family, that cultivates art of all kinds for everyone.
Here are directions.
Meet the Cast of ‘The World Goes ‘Round’ at Creative Cauldron: Part 1: Carolyn Burke.
Meet the Cast of ‘The World Goes ‘Round’ at Creative Cauldron: Part 2: Carli Smith.
Meet the Cast of ‘The World Goes ‘Round’ at Creative Cauldron: Part 3: Harv Lester and Katie McManus.
The World Goes ‘Round’ at Creative Cauldron review on DCMetroTheaterArts by Kendall Moustafavi.