BWW Reviews: Escape with Roundabout Theatre's ANYTHING GOES at the Winspear Opera House

BWW Reviews: Escape with Roundabout Theatre's ANYTHING GOES at the Winspear Opera House

"If baby I'm the bottom you're the top."

Yes, once upon a time someone penned those, and many other immortal lyrics. Lyrics which would embed themselves into our collective history and come to serve as the foundation for what we fittingly refer to as the "Great American Songbook."

And although it's hard to believe, this, at the time, popular music was once derived almost exclusively from musical theater.

Times have certainly changed but it's funny how they have yet to diminish our fondness for the old-fashioned musical. Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes, is living proof we still love the pure escapism of the original American musical tradition.

The revival easily earned the Tony in its class in 2011 and its nationwide tour is taking Kathleen Marshall's brilliantly directed nostalgic trip to the nation.

Dallas' Winspear Opera House is a fittingly classical venue for the extravagant sets and orchestration of the production.

The plot is a simplistic tale of a nightclub singer in love with a gigolo in love with an heiress engaged to a Brit in love with the aforementioned nightclub singer. Don't worry, as you've most likely already guessed, everyone winds up with the right person in the end.

You don't go to a 1930's musical for intellectual stimulation, you go to have a good time and this production delivers one of the best.

The beautiful Rachel York plays the sultry Reno Sweeney as one might imagine Ethel Merman played it in the original. She is the epitome of the classic Broadway leading lady; she's funny, she's sassy and she's sexy.

Erich Bergen in the role of the seemingly unlucky in love Billy Crocker is her equal in every way, and York and Bergen's "You're the Top" duet is one of the show's highlights. The chemistry between the two allows them to succeed in their attempts to appear spontaneous.

Other highlights include Fred Applegate as the comical gangster Moonface Martin and Edward Staudenmayer as the very British and very slapstick Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

The show is actually funny. Marshall's direction along with the costume and set designs do an admirable job of taking the audience on a journey back in time to a time where jokes were clean, gangsters were funny and we had an inordinate curiosity with Eastern culture. Hilarious

The action is secondary though because the true star of the show is Porter's score, which includes standards such as "You're the Top," "I Get a Kick out of You" and "Easy to Love."

Although it remains to be seen how well these standard songs and old-fashioned musicals will hold up in another hundred years, they show no signs of losing their appeal anytime soon. Maybe a dose of pure escapism is exactly what we're all looking for.

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Jennifer Smart Jennifer Smart is a freelance writer and lover of the arts currently living in Dallas, Texas. She holds degrees in History and Communications from Southern Methodist University. An avid theater and musical theater lover from a young age, Jennifer has converted that love to an obsessive consumption of all things art and theater.


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