ALL ABOARD!!! for "ANYTHING GOES"
Original Book By P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton
and Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
New Book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Directed and Choreographed by Kathleen Marsh
March 12, 2013 at 7:30P.M.
"Anything Goes" is a classic reminder of the Golden Age of the Broadway Musical. The national touring company revival, now appearing at Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center, is filled with dazzling, high energy, polished, production numbers, that will have you out of your seat cheering! And that is exactly what these old-fashioned musicals did to us way back when.
The original Broadway production opened in 1934, starring the incomparable Ethel Merman. It was revamped in 1962, Off-Broadway, and then again on Broadway in 1987 starring Patty Lupone, and once again in 2011, starring Sutton Foster, (winning three Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival and Choreography). Not only did the libretto change in each revival, but also the lyrics, songs, and song placement. What has remained the same are the very, very, long production numbers and reprises. The 2011 libretto version is in the current touring revival. P.S. I must also mention that there was also a film version in 1936 and in 1956 and a television version in 1954. PHEW! Well, "Anything Goes", I guess!
Call me a purest, or old school, or whatever, but I like the origonal, silly libretto and song selections and placement, the best. When you are reviving a timeless, classic piece of American Musical Theatre, why tamper with it? To me, this production is not the "Broadway revival", but instead the fourth version of what "was" the original 'Anything Goes". The libretto and score have been significantly changed. Some songs from the original are completely cut and others from former versions are back in the show. What I do agree with, are the new, sensational orchestrations, that add just the right pizazz and punch to the well known Cole Porter score.
The story takes place in 1934 on a the magnificent, S.S. American, luxury cruise ship, sailing from New York to England. The onboard calamity begins with Celebrity singer/Evangelist, Reno Sweeney, who is in love with Wall Street broker, Billy Crocker. Billy is in love with socialite Hope Harcourt, who is about to be married to a stuffy Englishman, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. There is also Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, who is disguised as a minister, along with his gun mol, Erma. And this is only the beginning of the mayhem and madness of this zany production.
The score is Cole Poter's finest, memorable "standards". "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Blow, Gabriel, Blow!". "It's De-lovely", "All Through the Night", "You're the Top", "Friendship, and more.
The opening night audience was electric in anticipation for the show to start. There was a vibrant painting of an oceanliner, (along with the title) on the show drop. The lighting simulated the moving sea. The pre-show announcements began very cleverly, with a Captain's whistle and an array of humorously written house notes. The lights dimmed, and the conductor, (Jay Alger adorned in a Captain's hat), raised his baton and the magnificent orchestra began. WOW! Everyone knew from that moment, that this was no ordinary touring production. This was FIRST CLASS! And the audience applause for the overture and the reveal of the huge, bright white, 3 tiered, grande oceanliner, was deafening. Even the passengers were elegantly dressed in various shades of white. It was breathtaking.
Glamorous, platinum haired, Rachel York stars as the brash, fast talking, wise-cracking, Reno Sweeney. Her character and line delivery are reminicent of Mae West and Rosalind Russell. Miss York is a dynamo, a triple threat. She acts, she has an unbelievable "set of pipes", and WOW!, does she dance! She commands the stage at all times with impeccable comic timing, landing every joke and one liner with a bang! Miss. York is not only a bombastic belter, but she also has a beautiful, lyrical soprano as well. And she is "easy on the eyes" too. Miss York looks perfectly stunning in every scene. She left the audience in wonderment after belting full blast and tapping her brains out, in the high energy showstopper of the title song, ending Act I. And then, she continued to belt and dance in Act II with "Blow Gabriel, Blow!" and then there was more and more of the same...How does she do it? An amazing performance!