Sunday, May 15, 2011

theatre review ANYTHING GOES, Broadway, May 14

The new revival of Anything Goes has to be just about the most fun one can have at a Broadway show.  It has a score by Cole Porter with many well known Porter gems, a well written comical book, exuberant dance numbers, great sets and costumes and a top notch cast in both the leads and the ensemble.  You will leave the theatre with a big smile on your face and humming the many Porter hit songs as well as singing the praises, once again, of star Sutton Foster.

It's been almost 25 years since Anything Goes was last on Broadway.  I saw that production twice and had just as much fun then as I did yesterday.  However, Kathleen Marshall who directed and choreographed this production, has upped the ante and turned this production into one with infectious dance numbers.  When you have an actress who can dance in the lead part of Reno Sweeney, it is easy to create dance numbers that are built around her talents instead of ones that have to be created to hide your star's lack of dancing skills.  Let's just say that as much as I loved Patti LuPone's take on Reno Sweeney in the 1987 revival, LuPone didn't dance much at all in that show.  Foster is like a firecracker in this show, not just with her dancing and singing but with her comical deliver of her dialogue as well.  I have to believe she will be taking home a Tony in just a few weeks.

Joel Grey and Sutton Foster
The show takes place on a ship sailing for England with various characters on board, mistaken identities, Chinese missionaries, gangsters, romantic possibilities and the headliner for the cruise, Miss Reno Sweeney.  Marshall has assembled a dream cast for this show.  Joel Grey is Moonface Martin, the comical public enemy who is disguised as a minister so as to not get caught.  Grey has some great comic bits in the show, gets to do a little dancing and singing as well and he is simply fun and lovable to watch.  Colin Donnell is Billy Crocker, the romantic lead, and he sings and dances in such a beautiful way that you can imagine how every girl in Manhattan is in love with him, as Reno says in the show.  Laura Osnes is Hope, the girl Billy is in love with, and Osnes makes you care for her much more then I remember ever caring for a previous Hope in productions I've seen of this show before.  Osnes and Donnell dance and sing beautifully together as well. Jessica Walter and John McMartin are the lovable older couple who find themselved romantically involved and both of whom get several funny scenes together.  They are extremely funny and charming in their roles.  Adam Godley is the slightly crazy Englishmen that Hope is engaged to marry. He has a very funny song in act two where he and Reno dance a gypsy tango together that is very hilarious.  Godley was also nominated for a Tony for his performance, as he is that funny in this part.

Adam Godley, Laura Osnes, Jessica Walter,
John McMartin and Colin Donnell
Anything Goes is one of those shows that has been revised several times since its first Broadway production back in 1934.  Many songs have been removed as well as other songs added in from other Porter scores. The 1962 off Broadway revival was the first to include such songs as "Friendship" and "It's Delovely" while the 1987 revival featured a new book co-written by the son of one of the original book writers.  That book was able to take the previous versions before it and whip it up into a comical gem by adding in many funny one liners as well as reordering some of the songs.  The current Broadway revival uses the book and score from the 1987 revival though about 50% of the orchestrations have been revised for the new dance sequences.

Colin Donnell and Sutton Foster
It really is amazing to think that Broadway only got two musical revivals this year and that both this show and the revival of How To Succeed... are both so similar in their humorous books, great sets, costumes, choreography and casts.

Anything Goes is playing at the newly renamed Stephen Sondheim Theatre.  This recently rebuilt theatre is a beautiful new space that was built from the former Henry Miller's Theatre.  It is a very interesting theater in that you enter from the street level at the rear mezzanine level and have to go two flights underground to get to the orchestra section.  Fortunately, even though it is only a little over a year old, the seats aren't packed together as there is plenty of leg room, unlike many other Broadway theaters which when they are remodeled seem to pack in more seats and eliminate comfort.

Sutton Foster, the cast and the amazing set.
So, if you're looking for a humorous, joyful musical, in a beautiful brand new theatre, go see Anything Goes!

Official Web Site

Amazon link for the 1987 Broadway revival cd - Anything Goes

Amazon link for the 1962 revival cd - Anything Goes (1962 Off-Broadway Cast)

Highlights from the current revival -

Foster and Donnell sing "You're the Top" -

"Anything Goes" -

Rehearsal of "Anything Goes" -

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