Four Seasons Theatre has a stunning little musical revue at UW Music Hall - a jewel-box theater just the right size for The World Goes 'Round. A revue is a musical-theater genre with selected showstoppers from big Broadway hits, in this case Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman and New York, New York, plus other shows created during the long career of the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb.
Staging is minimal for a revue - a swag of fabric and some lighting effects - but the singing, dancing and acting talent in this show is way beyond minimal. Director Michael Stanek makes the most of a surefire cast: Leslie Cao, L. Joe Dahl, Carmen Fisher, Robert Goderich and Amy Welk. The seven-piece orchestra includes guest musical director Anthony Cao, an iron man at the piano.
One of the attractions of World Goes 'Round is that the production includes the best songs from Kander and Ebb's half-forgotten shows. So definitely anticipate hearing the memorable favorites - they don't disappoint - but listen up for others.
Leslie Cao vamps and scorches her incendiary way through "All That Jazz," but she's equally sizzling as a suburban housewife beating boredom with Coffee in the morning/Brandy in the evening/and "Arthur in the Afternoon" (The Act). Goderich performs "The Kiss of the Spider Woman," but when he sings little-known "Sara Lee," he gets a big hand from everyone with a sweet tooth in the audience. Dahl sings "Mister Cellophane," and yes, it makes us tear up; but then he does it again with "Marry Me" (The Rink).
These are all "actable" songs, and this cast has an infectious good time putting them across. I'm talking vaudeville soft shoe, roller-skates and expert mugging. Fisher often sings the more wistful numbers, like "My Coloring Book," a seldom-heard song beloved by musical aficionados. Welk, in a category all her own, performs "Colored Lights" (The Rink), with its witty double-takes; then belts out "Ring Them Bells" (Liza With a Z), a comic travelogue replete with Welk's signature growls. But then - surprise - she sings "Isn't This Better?" (Funny Lady) straight, with sweet nuance.
Like most Broadway musicals, Kander and Ebb's songs are about love and heartbreak, laughs and lust, dreams and the city. "One day it's kicks/Then it's kicks in the shins/But the world goes 'round."