“Anything Goes” Sails Away on the Music
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Witty and full of joyous musical theater magic, “Anything Goes” is riding a rave of popularity that began when this show reappeared on Broadway in April of 2011 and promptly won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Ethel Merman headlined the original cast in 1935, and she’s a tough act to follow. But the producers of this reincarnation, The Roundabout Theater Company, have mounted an efficient, colorful cast and spirited choreography that easily wins over an audience.
Broadway and film star Rachel York headlines as Reno Sweeney, and she is terrific. York plays a comely nightclub entertainer who has her eye on a young bond salesman who, unfortunately for Reno, has his eyes on a conservative young woman about to marry a wealthy Englishman in order to cure her mother’s financial problems. The young man is played by Josh Franklin. The young girl about to go down the wrong marriage aisle is played by Alex Finke. The contrived action all takes place on a ship sailing the North Atlantic from New York to England. The ship’s Captain, played by Chuck Wagner, is sad there aren’t any celebrities on board. That’s easily fixed with some expedient identity changes.
With a show like “Anything Goes,” you never want to pay too much attention to the story. It’s all so contrived and ridiculous that it doesn’t matter.
What does count is the great Cole Porter score, with numbers like “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Easy to Love,” “It’s De-lovely” and of course the title song, “Anything Goes.” That number is a perfect closing number to Act I.
The entire cast is experienced and well-chosen. The set is somewhat static, mostly confined to amidships scene. Act II is noticeably bereft of the knock out music that’s in Act I, but the dancing and humor manage to carry it through. “Anything Goes” is timeless Cole Porter enchantment. Leave your troubles outside the theater, and with apologies to Irving Berlin, “Let Yourself Go.”