SHOWING : September 21, 2012 - October 07, 2012
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Winner of three 2011 Tony Awards including Best
Revival of a Musical, “Anything Goes” is Cole Porter’s
tap-dancing extravaganza! When the S.S. American
heads out to sea, etiquette and convention
head out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off
on the course to true love — proving that sometimes
destiny needs a little help from a crew of
singing sailors, an exotic disguise, and some good
old-fashioned blackmail! Peppering this hilariously
bumpy ride are some of musical theatre’s most
memorable standards including “I Get a Kick Out of
You,” “It’s De-lovely,” and of course, “Anything Goes!”
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Port(er) of Call|
Thursday, December 20, 2012 ||
For the second time in a few short months, I got to wallow in an evening filled with the music of Cole Porter. That it was accompanied by a truly silly, sublimely old-fashioned show done to the hilt by the talented designers and performers of Atlanta Lyric Theatre was only icing on the cake. I loved this show, and, if audience reaction is anything to go by, I wasn't alone.|
Anyone who loves musicals (and if you donâ��t, why are you reading this?) knows that â��Anything Goesâ�� is one of Cole Porterâ��s most-performed, most-revived, and most-revised shows (Wikipedia has a nice little spreadsheet that compares three versions -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anything_Goes). For the record, the version chosen by Atlanta Lyric is the recent (2011) revision by Timothy Crouse (son of original book writer Russel Crouse) and John Weidman (â��Pacific Overturesâ�� and â��Assassinsâ��) that won Tonyâ��s for Best Revival and Best Actress in a Musical (Sutton Foster). It includes at least two Porter songs not in any previous version (â��The Crew Songâ�� and â��Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbyeâ��), adds a few old ones from the original 1934 version (â��Thereâ��ll Always be a Lady Fair,â�� â��Gypsy in Me,â�� and â��Buddy Bewareâ��), and tweaks other songs by changing the order and assigning them to different characters.
When all is said and done, though, none of this really matters. Itâ��s a silly little story that remains (mostly) unchanged that is used to string together a collection of totally entrancing and â��Delovelyâ�� Cole Porter songs. Iâ��ll try to recap without snickering â�� Billy Crocker stows away on board the luxury liner SS American to win the heart of sweet debutante Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to British nobleman Lord Evelyn Oakleigh to save her family from financial ruin. Meanwhile, Billyâ��s Boss, Elisha J. Whitney, is making the crossing hoping to seal a financial deal, confident that Billy will make a strategic stock sale that will save him from financial ruin. Meanwhile, evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney, a friend of Billyâ��s, is making the crossing to ..um .. do whatever evangelist-turned-nightclub-singers do in London, probably not involving saving anyone from financial ruin. Meanwhile, Public Enemy # 13 Moonface Martin is making the crossing with his gal pal Erma to â�¦ well, the best I can figure is to provide some plot complications, to help Billy, and to show that gangsters are hoofers too.
Add to the mix a search for public enemy # 1, a real missionary with his reformed-gambler Chinese protÃ©gÃ©es, a boatload of farcical set-ups and complications, and, you know, the more I write, the more I realize it doesnâ��t really matter.
What really matters is that â��Anything Goesâ�� is REALLY about singers and dancers at their peak performing the songs of Cole Porter at his peak. Itâ��s about Lisa Manuli (Reno) and Alan Kilpatrick (Moonface) mooning over â��Friendship.â�� Itâ��s about Jeremy Wood (Billy) and Laura Floyd (Hope) crooning and mooning and â��Delovely-ing.â�� Itâ��s about brilliantly comic turns by Jennifer Smiles (Erma â�� â��Buddie Bewareâ��) and Dustin Lewis (Evelyn â�� â��The Gypsy in Meâ��). And, of course, itâ��s about a cast of more than thirty bringing down the Strand rafters with high-octane versions of â��Blow Gabriel Blowâ�� and â��Anything Goes.â��
Director and MD Brandt Blocker and Choreographer Karen Hebert spare no ounce of talent in creating the scenes and musical numbers, and set and lighting designer Bradley Bergeron creates a space that is a true thing of beauty. The Strand stage is small, but tall, and Mr. Bergeron uses the space beautifully to fill it without crowding it.
Even with all the revisions, this is truly an old-school musical, complete with full orchestra, overture, and full-evening running time. It harkens back to a time when a visit to Broadway was a special event and NOT a quick entertainment fix to be enjoyed and forgotten. It is fast-paced, high-energy, and without a thought in its pretty little head. It is filled with characters that start with archetypes and caricatures and fills them out with delightful eccentricities and recognizable heartaches.
After wallowing in the pleasures of the show, all I wanted to do was serenade it with another reprise of â��I Get a Kick Out of You.â�� In short, â��Itâ��s the Top!â��
-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)
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