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May 5, 2008

‘Around The World in 80 Days’


Going from the mundane to the fantastic, Lookingglass Theatre Company's take on the Jules Vern classic Around The World in 80 Days is a masterful performance art piece. Adapted by Laura Easton who also serves as writer and director, the basic story is intact as 19th century Phileas Fogg embarks on a journey around the world in 80 days to fulfill a wager of his entire fortune. As, Fogg, along with his valet, Passepartourt, travel the globe, not only do they encounter great adventure, but Fogg undergoes a journey of self discovery.

‘Around The World in 80 Days’
Philip R. Smith, who was absolutely chilling in Steppenwolf's The Crucible is the perfect embodiment of Fogg. As a man who at the outset of the play is caught up in the security of a daily routine and punctuality, Smith communicates Fogg's emotional growth very subtly and to great effect as the around the world travels bring a different moral challenge at each stop.

As Fogg's loyal valet, Kevin Douglas is a physical comedy marvel and as an actor, complements Smith wonderfully. The friendship between Fogg and Passpartourt are the cornerstone of this work, and the two actors have palpable chemistry. Add the beautiful Ravi Batista as the damsel in distress into the mix and you have a road trip that Bob Hope and Bing Crosby would be envious of. Joe Dempser's Inspector Fix is half Inspector Javert and half Inspector Clouseau and serves as the perfect foil to Fogg and Passpartourt.

The Lookingglass stage is wonderfully utilized by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod whose scenic designs are clever and quite functional. The Lion King isn't the only show with a large elephant to make an appearance. Chicago's multi-talented composer, Kevin O'Donnell has written a lush score and makes each segment of the trip musically unique.

Around The World in 80 Days plays through June 1, 2008 at the Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. For ticket information and show times, please visit or call (312) 337-0665

Photo: Philip R. Smith as Phileas Fogg and Ravi Batista as Mrs. Aouda in Around the World in 80 Days, ensemble member Laura Eason's world premiere adaptation of Jules Verne's grand adventure, at the Lookingglass Theatre inside Chicago's historic Water Tower.
Photo by: Sean Williams (

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