"Anything Goes" (Broadway in Chicago): De-lovely and De-lightful

"Anything Goes" (Broadway in Chicago):  De-lovely and De-lightful

Reviewed by Jeanette Hamel

The classic and timeless musical comedy, Anything Goes, is a breath of fresh air during our drama filled days.  Set in 1934, which was another period fraught with economic, financial and international “stress,” this lighthearted production of toe tapping Cole Porter tunes is good for “what ails ya.”  The storyline of cruise ship filled with star crossed lovers, machine toting gangsters and sultry lounge singers translates beautifully across nearly 70 years of “progress.”

Roundabout Theatre Company’s national tour of Anything Goes opened Wednesday night at Cadillac Theatre to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.  The whimsical and light hearted story made it easy to be swept away from today’s world and transplanted onto an elegant cruise ship filled with delightful characters.  Making the transition even more effortless were the nostalgic musical hits of Cole Porter sung by a brilliant and talented cast.  It is not hard to see how, under the direction of Kathleen Marshall (winner of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Choreography), Anything Goes was the winner of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Rachel York, aka Reno Sweeney, evangelist turned vivacious lounge singer, gets the show off to a peppy start with her smart rendition of “I Get a Kick Out of You.”   She immediately charms the audience and keeps them “wowed” throughout the production.  York gets a chance to flaunt more of her incredible “talents” with her smokin’ hot version of “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”  Her “bigger than life” character as Reno is very entertaining with her plucky retorts and her unabashed cockiness.  York’s “piece de resistance” is her astonishing rendition of the show’s title piece:  “Anything Goes.”  Coming at the end of Act One, the amazing song and dance routine of York and company was a show stopper and true to the old school, grand scale musical dance numbers from the ‘30’s.

While York as Reno dominated the show and the stage, many of the cast put in mighty performances.  Fred Applegate created an audience rapport for Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, the machine gun toting gangster/preacher in disguise.  Joyce Chittick is his breezy and “easy” moll, Erma, and steals a few scenes with her hip swinging, sailor chasing ways.  Star crossed lovers, Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt (played by Josh Franklin and Alex Finke respectively), are easy to root for.  Their duets in “Easy to Love,” “It’s De-lovely” and “All Through The Night” are charming and enchanting. (It doesn’t hurt at all that they are an altogether exquisite looking couple.)

Perhaps the most unforeseen character development comes from Edward Staudenmayer (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh) who plays Finke’s (as Hope’s) wealthy, English fiancé.  While Staudenmayer plays his meek, stereotypical artistocratic role beautifully, his “coming out” with York and “The Gypsy in Me” is a complete metamorphosis and has astounding execution.  Other notable performances were turned in by Chuck Wagner (Captain), Dennis Kelly (Elisha Whitney) and Sandra Shipley (Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt).    Intrinsic to the stellar chorus and dance scenes were the spectacular performances of the Ensemble and the Four Angels.

Special recognition must also be given to the Anything Goes Orchestra with Conductor Jay Alger (complete in his captain’s hat) at the helm.  They truly conveyed the Cole Porter spirit with their spot on performance.  Costume Design by Martin Pakledinaz also helped complete the glamorous and super posh lifestyles and were highlighted in all of the dance numbers with luxuriously flowing gowns and slickly chic tuxedos.

Anything Goes is a lively and entertaining story of star crossed lovers and some high seas antics.  As Erma says:  “I LOVE this boat.”   Enjoyable, merry and “swell” – even with some “racy” innuendos, this is highly recommended for all ages! Truly a de-lovely and de-lightful “pick-me-up” for the times….

Anything Goes

Based on the original book by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse and new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman

Directed by Kathleen Marshall

Musical Direction by Jay Alger with additional orchestrations by Bill Elliott

April 24th through May 5th, 2013

For tickets call 800.775.2000 or visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com

 

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  • Thank God it wasn't a Carnival cruise.

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