Cole Porter's classic musical about living life up on the high seas amidst mad-cap Vaudevillian mishaps and shenanigans has once again come to the Great White Way. Anything Goes first opened on Broadway in 1934 at the Alvin Theatre to immediate acclaim for its lead actors Ethel Merman, William Gaxton, and Victor Moore.
The original production featured Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter with an original book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay, and Russel Crouse. For the 2011 Broadway revival, Crouse's son, Timothy Crouse, contributed to the new book written with John Weidman.
After several notable revivals, West End runs, and two films based on Porter's musical, the latest -- and perhaps greatest -- revival of Anything Goes opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre April 7, 2011. This production is helmed by Tony Award-winning Director and Choreographer Kathleen Marshall for the Roundabout Theatre Company.
Song and Dance
Anything Goes' storyline follows the traditional musical comedy format of care-free characters reveling in superficial plotlines in which even the most worrisome problem is resolved by the show's end. For the characters aboard the luxury liner, the S.S. American, the martinis flow as easily and as often as the big dance numbers.
With saucy starlets and singing sailors, Anything Goes contains a treasure trove of Porter classics that have since entered the American songbook, including “You're the Top,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “I Get A Kick Out of You,” and the title tap spectacular “Anything Goes.”
These upbeat, care-free songs were pivotal in helping the country's morale during the Great Depression and have become Broadway showstopper standards. Musical theatre historians have made an interesting note that Anything Goes seems to be resurrected on Broadway every time the country is in a recession.
2011 Broadway Revival
The 2011 Broadway revival cast of Anything Goes includes triple-threat belter Sutton Foster as "Reno Sweeney." Foster won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her title role performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Singing and hoofing eight shows per week with Foster is legendary song and dance man, Joel Grey, who won the Tony Award and the Academy award for his incredible performance as the "Emcee" in Kander and Ebb's iconic musical, Cabaret.
Also joining Foster and Grey are a number of Broadway pros and character actors. John McMartin plays the drink-in-hand “Elisha Whitney”, with velvety-voiced tenor Colin Donnell as the smooth-talking, “Billy Crocker.” British actor Adam Godley offers an understated turn as “Lord Evelyn Oakleigh,” that escalates into a hilarious romp that earned him a 2011 Tony Award nomination. Though this production does not highlight the "Angels" as previous productions have done, "Erma” is played with gusto by Jessica Stone.
Kelly Bishop plays “Evangeline Harcourt” with Laura Osnes as her daughter, “Hope Harcourt.” Osnes began her Broadway career after winning the lead role of "Sandy" in the Broadway revival of Grease during the television casting reality show, "Grease: You're the One That I Want." Marshall functioned as a head judge on the casting show because she was the Director and Choreographer for the subsequent Broadway production.
Rounding out the spectacular cast is Walter Charles as “Captain,” Robert Creighton as “Purser,” Andrew Cao as “Luke,” and Raymond J. Lee as “John.” The chorus is comprised of Clyde Alves, Ward Billeisen, Joyce Chittick, Margot De La Barre, Daniel J. Edwards, Kimberly Fauré, Josh Franklin, Justin Greer, Tari Kelly, Michelle Lookadoo, Shina Ann Morris, Linda Mugleston, Kevin Munhall, Mary Michael Patterson, Adam Perry, Hayley Podschun, William Ryall, Jennifer Savelli, Anthony Wayne, and Kristen Beth Williams.
2011 Tony Awards
Opening in time for Tony Award eligibility, Anything Goes' outstanding performance and production values earned nine 2011 Tony Award nominations. At the 65th Annual Tony Awards, held on June 12, 2011, at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, Anything Goes won three Tonys.
Foster won for Best Actress in a Musical, beating out her category's co-nominees Patina Miller (Sister Act), Beth Leavel (Baby, It's You!), and previous Tony Award winner Donna Murphy (People in the Picture).
Best Choreography went to Marshall, who was also nominated in the Best Director of a Musical category. The 2010-2011 Broadway season was lauded for marking the return of the Broadway Director/Choreographer. Joining Marshall with nominations in both the Director as well as the Choreographer categories were Susan Stroman for Kander and Ebb's Scottsboro Boys, Rob Ashford for fellow revival How to Succeed..., and Casey Nicholaw for The Book of Mormon. Marshall lost the 2011 Tony for Best Director of a Musical to Mormon's Director/Choreographer Nicholaw.
The 2011 production of Anything Goes won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. The only other nominee in the category was the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying starring Daniel Radcliffe, who did not win in his category, and award-winning television actor John Larroquette, who won the 2011 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.
Anything Goes plays the Sondheim Theatre at 124 West 43rd Street between 6th Ave. and Broadway Ave., and producers have extended the run into 2012. For schedule and ticket information, visit the show's website.