“Around the World in 80 Days” is Exciting, Energetic and Epic

Review by Liz Eichler of “Around the World in 80 Days”: Human Race Theatre

Human Race Theatre has built a reputation for delighting audiences by showcasing amazing talent in Dayton. “Around the World in 80 Days” will thrill you with the range, flexibility, charm and sheer energy of the five exceptional actors who share this epic story of how a wealthy, exacting, but mysterious bachelor, Phileas Fogg, accepts a bet from his club members to circumnavigate the world in 80 days or less—in 1872. The play follows that journey and its heroic, harrowing and hilarious complications from London to far-away lands and the race to win that bet. 

The show features an ensemble with great skill and ability to switch between multiple roles in an instant. Two performers stand out – Jake Lockwood and Cincinnati native Patrick Earl Phillips. They add memorable quirks to the small roles (passport stampers, bellhops and more) and conquer their larger roles with great physical and vocal alacrity. Lovelee Carroll and Darlene Spencer are new to the area but are also tremendously versatile comics and performers. Jared Joplin, primarily as Fogg, is the strong center to this universe of unique and cartoony exotic characters.

Director Joe Deer didn’t drop a stich as he knitted together the ensemble and choreography.  The whole theatre is used for entrances and exits.  Sometimes the performers run offstage as one character and in two seconds he or she will be completely transformed as another.  When those transitions happen on-stage it is a treat. One of the best transformations is when an “elephant” appears on-stage…watch for it! 

The set (Dick Block) evokes a simple yet sturdy steam punk train station, as well as many other locales, decorated with a multitude of period props (Heather Powell).  Connecting us between locations are clever projections (John Riechers) and wonderful lighting and effects (John Rensel). The actors move in beautiful clothing (Cat Schmeal-Swope) that is both perfectly tailored and accommodating their range of acrobatics and quick changes. 

Take a train, ship or pachyderm, but run to see this show for the range of interesting characters from around the world. “Around the World” plays through March 17.  Tickets for your next date night or family night can be purchased through my.ticketcenterstage.com or @HumanRaceTheatre.