I’m on a Sutton Foster high. I’m in Heaven. Coupled with the delightful score by Cole Porter with his memorable tunes and witty lyrics who could ask for anything more?
I’m speaking of the revival of Anything Goes that has docked at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre for what will surely be a lengthy stay. This revival will revive your spirits, put a glow on your face and a spring in your step as you relive every wonderful moment of this way beyond wonderful musical starring the exceptionally talented Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney – a nightclub singer/evangelist who gets mixed up with a group of zany characters on board a ship headed for London.
That’s about all you need to know of the plot that’s as creaky as a weathered gang plank with some groan inducing jokes that somehow we still laugh at. The original book by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse has been tweaked by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman and allows us to get to the songs ASAP. Songs that include “You’re the Top”, “Easy to Love”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “It’s De-Lovely”, and the show stopping first act finale “Anything Goes” and its Act II counterpart “Blow Gabriel Blow”.
A score this good hasn’t been heard on Broadway for years and writers of musical theater should take note (note for note) listen and learn.
Director Kathleen Marshall who has also choreographed some really exciting and lovely dances which bring to mind Fred and Ginger and Gene Kelly has set just the right tone to allow these old time gags to work and has assembled a great cast to do justice to this classic musical comedy.
From the very first notes of the bouncy overture we are ready for a bubbly champagne cocktail treat of a show. Rob Fisher (music supervisor & vocal arranger) has done a fantastic job of bringing back the sound of the thirties when Anything Goes was first staged.
The show is as stylish as they come. Magnificently chic period costumes by Martin Pakledinaz (note especially the backs of the dresses) are perfect as is the shipboard set by Derek McLane with great lighting by Peter Kaczorowski.
But it is Sutton Foster who will wow you with her clarion vocals, her tap dancing and her comic abilities brightening up the house with her smile alone and looking stunning in her many outfits. There isn’t enough praise to be showered upon this incredibly talented Broadway star.
Her co-star is Joel Grey playing gangster Moonface Mullins as if he was an aging leprechaun with a still obvious twinkle in his eye adds just the right amount of nonsense to the farcical proceedings.
It’s always a plus when the actors on stage are having as much fun as the audience and this accomplished cast seems to be having a ball up there.
There is Billy (Colin Donnell) with a fine tenor voice and flair for comedy who is in love with Hope (a beguiling Laura Osnes) who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Adam Godley – has created a miracle by making what could have been a throw away part truly memorable in his attempt to master American “slang”. He brightens the stage with each entrance and exit). Hope’s mother Evangeline Harcourt who has her eye on everyone’s bank account (played by understudy Linda Mugelson was terrific). Billy’s boss a drunken Eli Whitney is mastered by John McMartin.
There are gangsters, mistaken identities, a missing dog, FBI agents, a minister and a couple of Chinese guys learning the ropes of gambling and lots and lots of fun. Anything Goes is pure fun. Well, maybe not so pure with Reno and Erma (Jessica Stone) and all those sailors around – but you will have the best time of your musical comedy life.
www.roundabouttheatre.org Photo: Joan Marcus
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