Review: Around the World In 80 Days


Kyle Sorrell, Bob Sorenson, Mark Anders, Yolanda London and Jon Gentry in Arizona Theatre Company’s Around the World in 80 Days. Photo by Tim Fuller/Arizona Theatre Company.

Kyle Sorrell, Bob Sorenson, Mark Anders, Yolanda London and Jon Gentry in Arizona Theatre Company’s Around the World in 80 Days. Photo by Tim Fuller/Arizona Theatre Company.

By Caitlin Miller –

When you hear the name Jules Verne, the first thing that usually comes to mind is adventure. And the first thing that comes to mind when you think of adventure is action movies. Some of the most well-loved action/adventure movies are based off of or in part inspired by Jules Verne – from A Trip to the Moon by the legendary Georges Méliès to the more recent Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser. But action and adventure usually don’t come to mind when you think of a night at the theater. Arizona Theatre Company’s (ATC) production of the quintessential Verne story, Around the World In 80 Days, will change that assumption for the theater-goers of Phoenix.

From London to India to Hong Kong to the Wild West, Around the World kept the audience on the edge their seats and rolling in the aisles more than any Hollywood blockbuster. With beautifully crafted, moving set pieces and a charming series of projected backdrops, the aesthetic of this show would be enough to make this reviewer give it two thumbs up. But it’s the cast, who evolve and adapt to character changes as seamlessly as the set they perform upon, that makes the show. Five performers play upwards of 15 separate characters, each a believable individual, and execute quick-fire costume changes – both on and offstage – with  fantastic speed and equally exciting humor.

Bob Sorenson returns to Herberger Theater Center with his perfect comedic timing in tow in a role that showcases his special talent in playing multiple characters. Mark Anders and Kyle Sorrell also make thrilling returns to ATC as (respectively) the show’s fastidious hero, Phileas Fogg, and the blustering Sir Francis, as well as many other hilarious characters Fogg meets on his journey around the world. Making her debut with ATC is the wonderful Yolanda London, showing off her range in at least three different roles, but shining as the beautiful and brave Aouda. But the stand-out, show-stopping, scene-stealing performance of the show is definitely Jon Gentry as the Fogg’s heroic servant, Passepartout. His delivery had the audience laughing hysterically with its outrageousness. We laughed at his jokes and sighed at his disappointments and more than a few hearts were broken with his last “It’s all my fault.”

I cannot recommend any show more than this one. Around the World in 80 Days will definitely make you laugh, will possibly make you cry and will have you associating adventure with theater from now on.

Written by Mark Brown and directed by David P. Saar,  Around the World in 80 Days runs at Herberger Theater Center through April 13. For more information, call 602.256.6995 or visit www.arizonatheatre.org.

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