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Sunday, 17 April 2011 11:50

Broadway Review: ANYTHING GOES

Written by
Joel Grey and Sutton Foster Joel Grey and Sutton Foster Photo: Joan Marcus

If you had the opportunity to do something that would make you smile for 2 hours and forty-five minutes, you’d do it wouldn’t you? Then get to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Anything Goes starring Sutton Foster and Joel Grey.

While neither of the aforementioned might ordinarily be considered for the roles of Reno Sweeney and Moonface Martin respectively, these two could sell ice to Eskimos. They sell these characters and their songs with such utter joy, you can’t help but love it.

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.  


Colin Donnell is adorable and delightful as Billy Crocker.  He has a lovely singing voice with an effortless upper register.  Laura Osnes is charming as Hope and also has a lovely voice, on display in “All Through the Night.”  As her fiance, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Adam Godley is wound tighter than a major league fast-ball with no direction, he’s wonderful.  In a bit of perfect casting, the legendary John McMartin is riotous as Elisha Whitney.


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?

Additional Info

  • Theatre: The Stephen Sondheim Theatre
  • Theatre Address: 124 West 43rd St. New York, NY 10036
  • Show Style: Musical
  • Previews:: March 10, 2011
  • Opening Night: April 7, 2011
  • Closing: Open-Ended
Last modified on Sunday, 17 April 2011 18:46