Cole Porter has written the songs that Reno sings for a different voice. They unfortunately fall into an odd place in Ms. Foster’s vocal range so at times she seems slightly shrill. That is the ONLY complaint I have about the entire show. Other than that, this show sparkles, pops, and spins with a glorious cast and great direction.
Originally produced on Broadway in the fall of 1934 with William Gaxton, Ethel Merman and Victor Moore in the roles of Billy Crocker, Reno Sweeney and Moonface Martin, respectively. The original concept for the musical involved a shipwreck. Two months prior to the show’s opening, the SS Morro Castle en route from Havana to New York caught fire. 137 crew members and passengers perished. The concept for P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton’s original script was out. What they came up with seems nothing more than a skeleton on which to hang Cole Porter's delightful songs. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney sets sail on an ocean-liner. Along with her are: an heiress, Hope Harcourt and her mother; Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin; Billy Crocker, who’s in love with the heiress; Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Ms. Harcourt’s fiance; and Elisha J. Whitney, Billy’s boss who thinks he’s back in New York selling shares of his company’s stock and making him millions. There are also federal agents on-board who are hunting for Moonface.
The show is directed and choreographed by the gifted Kathleen Marshall. Ms. Marshall has no less than 15 Broadway shows to her credit and Tonys for Wonderful Town and The Pajama Game. On first glimpsing Derek McLane’s bright ocean-liner deck set, it doesn’t appear terribly deep but Ms. Marshall uses the additional two levels of deck to brilliant effect as the dancers appear to climb the decks as the music modulates. Her staging of “Be Like the Bluebird” is most original as she uses a small blue pin-spot which Joel Grey plays against facilely (kudos on the spot work whoever you are.) It’s nice to see that time hasn’t seemed to effect Mr. Greys ability to move effortlessly. (See this article about the new Museum of New York exhibit about, and currated by, Mr. Grey)
Martin Pakledinaz’s costumes are stunning and Peter Kaczorowski develops multiple gorgeous looks onstage with his lighting.
This show may actually have more hits in it than any other Broadway show ever: “You’re the Top,” “Anything Goes,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” and “It’s De-Lovely” (originally written for Red Hot and Blue) to name just a few. The new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman is a perfect addition. They have found a perfect balance between the old corny jokes and a more modern sensibility.
Roundabout has just announced that Anything Goes has been extended until January of 2012, but don’t wait to get your tickets. Couldn’t we all use a chance to smile for 2 hours and forty-five minutes?