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10.29.2010 | | Posted at 12:52 AM

Off The Wall Theatre’s AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS

By Russ Bickerstaff
It was an intimate crowd last night for a performance of Dale Gutzman’s second part of Around the World in 80 Days: The Musical. Evidently selling far better on the weekends, the weeknight shows have been sparsely attended. Gutzman’s ambitious 4-hour long musical is filtered through the intimate space of the Off The Wall Theatre in 2 separate two-hour performances, each consisting of two one hour-long acts bisected by an intermission. The weekend performances, which run through November 7th, allow audiences to catch the entire show over the course of a day. The weekday performances separate the journey into two single-evening performances. (It’s all very precise on paper.)  The production itself is a fun, campy presentation of Jules Verne’s classic 1873 novel. Robert Hirschi plays a shy, humble Phileas Fogg. Though a competent singe and a very compassionate figure onstage, Hirschi largely lacks the unwavering sense of perfection and precision of the character’s counterpart in Verne’s novel. Jeremy Welter plays Fogg’s valet Passepartout. An exceedingly dynamic performer, Welter does a solidly respectable job of making the French valet seem charming and affable. The overall direction the character takes is one that is all too common in dramatic adaptations of the story—the fact is that Verne wrote the French valet to be a staggeringly interesting person who just happened to be following this Englishman round on his crazy plan to travel around the world in a very brief period of time with extreme precision. Like so many other presentations, Gutzman’s Around the World envisions the character as little more than a cute mascot for the central hero of Fogg. Other notable performances include Robert Zimmerman

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