Anything Goes

My husband and I both enjoy the theatre, so we like to try and take in a show whenever we go to New York City to visit his sister and her family. This trip we got tickets to see the most recent revival of Anything Goes, which won a Tony in 2011 for Best Musical Revival. The show was originally from 1934 with music and lyrics written by Cole Porter.

Incidentally, Anything Goes was the first musical theatre production I ever attended. When I was 10 or 11 my family took a trip to the UK and while we were in London we attended a couple of shows, one of which was the West End production of the 1987 revival of the show. Other than the fact that the show took place on a cruise ship, I didn’t remember much about it.

This most recent revival starring Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney and Joel Grey as Moonface Martin is, to quote music from the show itself, absolutely “delightful, delicious, de-lovely.” There was nothing about this show that I didn’t love. Every part of it, the music, acting, costumes, set, and choreography was divine. Speaking of the music you are probably familiar with several of the songs from Anything Goes even if you don’t realize it. Many of them have become musical standards including “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “You’re the Top”, “It’s De-Lovely”, and “All Through the Night”.

I really wanted to see this show because I had heard nothing but amazing things about Sutton Foster’s performance as Reno Sweeney, which she won a Best Actress Tony for in 2011. I was a little scared going in to the show that we were going to get one of Sutton’s understudies. In the weeks leading up to the performance we were attending, she apparently had been off at Ball State University co-directing a production there, and based on a Broadway World forum there seemed to be some question as to when she was returning to Anything Goes. I was thus super excited to find the only cast replacement for our show was the role of Old Lady in a Wheelchair. And let me just say that my expectations were not raised too high. Holy crap does that woman have stage presence. Her performance was amazing, and even after essentially performing 8 shows a week for the past 10 months she still looked like she was having a fabulous time doing it. At the end of the show after all the bows were taken, the cast was walking off stage and the curtain was mostly down I caught a glimpse of Sutton grabbing one of her cast mates and leading him in a little dance obviously just for fun since the audience couldn’t really see anymore. It was a delightful little moment, and I’m glad I caught it.

The dancing in the show is marvelous. Particularly the spectacular tap number that accompanies the titular song Anything Goes at the end of the first act. It seems like tap dancing is out of fashion and you don’t see it in too many shows these days. I see at least 6-7 musicals a year and I am hard pressed to remember another show I’ve seen in recent years that included a tap number, and I love me some tap so this dance made my night. I also adored the costumes in this show. I would love add non-stage versions of at least half of the outfits they had the Reno Sweeney character dressed in to my own wardrobe.

It was just a fantastic show all around, and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re looking to see a Broadway show. It’s scheduled to run through September 9, 2012 and then begin touring in October. If you can make it to New York to see it while Sutton is still in the lead I would make the effort, but even if you miss her or just catch the touring production there is much to recommend this show aside from her performance in it.

I’m including two different videos of the tap number from Anything Goes. The first is the shortened version performed on the Tony’s this past year. It’s scaled down and I find the panning and zooming of the camera really distracting, but it has the cast in costume on somewhat of a set. The second video is just from a rehearsal for the show so there is no set and no costumes, but it contains the full number which outshines the scaled down version by a factor of 100. I did see a bootlegged video of an actual performance of it, but I can’t condone that and am thus not linking to it. Plus it’s rather shaky and not great quality since it was most likely filmed with a camera phone by someone trying to be covert about it lest they get kicked out. I’ll let you look that one up on your own if you’re curious to see what the actual performance looks like.


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