The Patch, review of Around the World in 80 Days, by Joseph Sirota
Around The World In 80 Days
ICT Long Beach Sparkling Production Is A Worthy Live Tribute To Jules Verne’s Classic
By: Joseph Sirota, Entertainment Reviewer

Opening their 28th-Year of diverse, daring, high-quality
live theater, ICT (International City Theater) brings us a
rollicking Jules Verne 's classic saga at its best. This
truly genius French author captivated readers with
strikingly creative and unique stories that have become
well loved. But Verne was more than just a fine writer;
he was a scientific and societal "prophet". His famous
stories magnificently propelled readers far into the
future. His works mesmerizingly drew insightful true
pictures and insights of the world's wonders that would
yet be born. The world harnessed atomic power in the
1940's and the USS Nautilus (first nuclear submarine)
was launched in1954. But amazingly, Verne had
already written of an Atomic Submarine Nautilus in his
smash tale, Twenty-Thousand Leagues Beneath The
Sea in 1870. He also won readers galore by his stories
of rockets from Earth to the Moon, Travels to the Center
of the Earth, and even his prognostic tale of Paris in the
future--complete with glass-skyscrapers, bullet-trains,
calculators, plus (get this...) even with a worldwide info
network (take that, Al Gore). This forward view of Paris
so shocked publishers, it sat alone in a vault till rediscovered
in the 1990’s. This captivating theater
adoption of the classic by Mark Brown is a version of
Around...In 80 Days that is a feat of notable capability -- and a winning entertainment
success for audiences of live theater. Brown's adaptation of what is already Verne's most
lighthearted major work now adds heaps of fast/clever/sharp dialog and Chaplinesque physical
humor. When combined, we're delighted through every turn of a fascinating, grand global
race.

Verne's hero is a positive, CAN-DO spirited man, Phileas Fogg. He's, a bold man who sees
what CAN be achieved if you're creative and never give up when facing life's challenges or
pot-holes. Fogg makes a large bet against some "Anti-Change", stuffy aristocrats in his British
formal men's club. To these grouches "Such Fast Travel-Has-Never-Been-Done-Before-So-It-
Can't-Ever-Be-Done-at-All,-Hence, Fogg hasn't a chance. Quite different is the personal view
of winning the global race by the smart/bold hero Phileas Fogg. He cares less about the
Money than for world-wide admiration for bravery and his heart's love of achieving an
"Impossible" task! We, the audience are the real winners, getting a terrific ride along side Mr
Fogg and his few gathered friends, (his dedicated servant Passepartout). We find Fogg is a
self-made-man, fastidious in both math and logic, and willing to risk life and limb for his
beliefs. He's also noble; when another person in trouble needs his help. Along the way Fogg
risks his life (& his bet) to save a beautiful East Indian Girl Princess Aouda from be being
burned on the funeral pile of her deceased forced husband. He also risks life (and bet) to
deter and fight Apache Indians and a tough US Colonel to save devoted servant,
Passepartout. See Fogg & his small team standing tall in storms at sea, racing an old train to
leap withered bridges, riding a huge elephant. Come see them sail a wind land boat over icy
tundras, & then tear up a ship's deck when last coal is gone. All challenging, clever and
done with fun ... Wow!

The superb, right-on target Direction by Allison Bibicoff, kept pacing perfect, and was well
hailed. The "flawless, hard-working" five(5) person cast drew a clearly worthy long/loud
standing ovation at story's close. SAG might grimace at five actors carrying out 39
roles at high-speed/high-energy, quick changes and excellence in bringing each complex
character from country-to-country pop-up right on time, and add yet another worldly people
view of our planet. Hero, Phileas Fogg is thoroughly brought to life by Jud V. Williford, as a
complex, but likable and admirable man, who is demanding and exact but generous, loyal and
a dependable friend, partner, (&...as we ultimately find, a romantic fellow, too-- with the right
woman). As for women, the one female actor, Melinda Porto does a few very funny "goofy
male" roles early in the show, but once she blossoms into the beautiful, warm, earthly East
Indian Princess Aouda who was saved by Fogg and joins his team warmly as a very key
person, though still quite funny as the Princess, who'da thought her early skinny mustached
roles would be so lovely just minutes later. The new servant, Passepartout of Mr Fogg
amazingly conquers very tough musts. Not only must Michael Uribes be a physical/acrobatic
actor, but also a very funny, high-speed comic actor. Also, in the famous movie, his role of
was played by Cantinflas -- a very funny and extremely loved by South & North American
countries. Bravo ... our Mr Uribes, meets all requirements in a smash. Mark Gagliardi and
Brian Stanton, probably even more individual roles to cover like Narrator, British Detective,
Boat Owner, Boat sailers, Train Drivers, Train Conductors, Elephant riders & other policemen,
Judges, betters against the 80 Day Bet... & lots more.. Moral, You run into lotsa' people goin'
around the World even in a hurry.

Bravos all around to this great show.. from Jules Verne, to Play Adapter Mark Brown to
director!! to cast & to ICT backstage team.=A+

This is a production where sets, sounds, visuals and effects are almost as central to the plot &
impact, as the characters themselves. I pondered “How will they stage and support the play's
worldwide settings”. They did it with creative, small, symbolic, quick-measures of fine
imagination & hard work. Staci Walters -Scenic Design, Donna Ruzika -Lighting, Kim
DeShazo- Costumes, Dave Mickey -Sound Design. And: caryn desai: Artistic
Director/Producer ... All combine with the super-energetic cast (closely integrated with the
Director & physical set, costumes, etc. They meet Verne’s 80-Days “Dare” handily; and relate
the wondrous tale all in 120 thoroughly entertaining minutes.

---- Around The World In 80 Days @ The ICT Theater, Long Beach Performing Arts Ctr, 300
East Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802. Sched: Wed thru Sat 8:PM, Sun Matinees 2:PM.
Closes: Feb 17. Tkts: $38-$45. Tel: (562) 436-4610 www.InternationalCityTheatre.com
Melinda Porto,
Jud V. Williford,
Brian Stanton,
Mark Gagliardi (above)
Michael Uribes
                                    
photo by Suzanne Mapes