“Around the World in 80 Days” is not just a must-read classic novel, but the play adaptation is something that you should see at least once. Houston audiences have a chance to catch the globe-trotting adventures of Phileas Fogg and company at A.D. Players through Sep. 30.
The Victorian-era story is about how the world has become dramatically smaller with new technology, which allows the brave to bet on achieving the impossible. Today the fact that the world is small is something we can take for granted. The wonderment of these travelers reminds us that it wasn’t always that way.
The tale is also about plans going awry and ingenious travelers needing to find solutions on the spot. Their plans going south and having to the make do with what’s at hand is what makes these character’s journey relatable to anyone who hasn’t taken a trip around the world. Who hasn’t had last-minute change of plans?
What’s fun about Mark Brown’s play adaptation is five actors play 39 characters. And those roles are not easily divided. Actor Luis Quintero plays 16 distinct personas, each with their own voice and mannerisms. That’s no simple feat, anyone who can switch personalities with the switch of a hat multiple times on stage is skillful, focused and disciplined. Craig Griffin plays nine characters, including the antagonist Detective Fix.
UH alumna Skyler Sinclair’s portrayal of Aouda is my favorite, especially during the proposal. Branden Hunt is also a UH alumnus, he kept the show comical with how he portrays the endearing Passepartout.
Kevin Michael Dean effectively portrayed the character arc of protagonist Phileas Fogg, who transforms from a mechanical clock to a beating heart by the end of his adventure.
This is my second time seeing “Around the World in 80 Days” on stage in Houston, the Alley Theatre performed it just two years ago. While I enjoy the show, it makes me question how many contemporary playwrights are being overlooked when theaters keep choosing to produce classics. Admittedly, the A.D. Players’ production was easier to follow along with the whirlwind of costume changes. If you haven’t yet seen Jules Verne’s novel acted by a professional company, you get another chance this month.
“Around the World in 80 Days” will be performed at the A.D. Players home at the George Theater in the Galleria area through Sep. 30. Tickets start at $35.