Greg Gibson returns to his hometown for The World Goes Round, a musical revue showcasing the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb. The show travels from the Gravenhurst Opera House to Theatre Collingwood for a one week run starting Sept. 4.
“A lot of people wouldn’t realize that many of their songs are in the popular catalogue,” said Gibson. “New York, New York is the most well-known one, but people don’t know they wrote it. The song was sung by Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli, and their songs can be heard in the movie versions of Cabaret and Chicago. It’s my belief they were ahead of their time when they were writing for the stage.
“Their shows were edgy. The Broadway community appreciated their talent, but the audience didn’t always appreciate it (because) they did shows to challenge the audience.”
The American songwriting duo took on everything from antisemitism to women murdering men. Their songs were covered by stars such as Dionne Warwick and Barbra Streisand. The show’s title song, The World Goes Round, was written for the Martin Scorsese film, New York, New York.
Gibson, who is the music director for the show, said his current favourite is one of the duo’s not-so-well-known songs called Coffee in a Cardboard Cup.
“I would walk out of rehearsal humming it,” he said, adding the sentiment of the song is 100 per cent applicable today. “I’ll leave (the meaning of the song) as a mystery for the audience.”
Musical theatre is Gibson’s favourite genre of music because it marries words with music, singing and dancing, and it all comes together on a stage.
“When I’m sitting at home, listing to music, I put on show tunes,” he said. “It takes me to my happy place.”
Gibson grew up taking classical piano lessons, went to Queen’s University for music and has since served as a music director, conductor, pianist and actor on more than 50 productions throughout Canada and the United States, including companies such as the Shaw Festival and Barrie’s Talk Is Free Theatre.
This is his fourth show with Theatre Collingwood. He was born and raised in Collingwood and his parents still live there. Gibson stays with them when he is not traveling the world on a cruise ship. Since 2010, he has been the band leader and musical director for a variety of shows on Holland America Line cruises.
“I enjoy it,” said Gibson, who travels for eight months of the year. “I’ve been around the world twice, (visited) almost every continent except Antarctica and I get to go there in January (2019). It’s been quite an experience.”
Gibson will be playing the piano and sharing the stage with the band and singers, a total cast of 11.
The World Goes Round runs from Sept. 4-8 at the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood. Visit theatrecollingwood.ca or call 1-866-382-2200 for tickets.
Photo: Greg Gibson plays the piano (centre back) as part of a cast of 11 for The World Goes Round, Sept. 4-8, at Collingwood.