BWW Reviews: ANYTHING GOES is a Delightful Romp at The Princess of Wales
The Roundabout Theatre Company revival production of the hit 1930's musical Anything Goes opened this past Thursday night at The Princess of Wales Theatre, during one of the worst heat waves the city of Toronto had ever had. With ushers dressed in sailor uniforms and clever social media photobooths assembled in the theatre, the production was quickly being touted as a fantastic way to 'beat the heat' and enjoy three hours of blissful air-conditionning. But if you're trekking to the theatre in large part to escape the heat you are in for one heck of a surprise - Anything Goes may just be the go-to hit musical of the summer in Toronto.
The national touring production of the 2011 Broadway revival (which won three Tony Awards including Best Revival and Best Actress for Sutton Foster) is in Toronto until August 18th and ready take audiences on a fabulous voyage back to the time of the classic Broadway musical.
Anything Goes features the music of Cole Porter, book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman and choreography and direction by Kathleen Marshall. It also boasts a top notch cast of triple threats, lead by the incomparable Rachel York as Reno Sweeney.
The show tells the story of the S.S American, a ship headed out to sea with a rag tag bunch of wacky and over the top passengers on board. There's the aforementioned York as Reno Sweeney, a brassy and sassy lounge singer providing on-board entertainment. Joining her is Billy Crocker (Josh Franklin), a Wall Street broker who sneaks on board to follow Hope Harcourt (Alex Finke) who he's fallen in love with. Hope is accompanied by her mother (Sandra Shipley) and her fiance Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (the hilarious Edward Staudenmayer).
Adding some spice to the complicated yet funny love triangles are gangsters Moonface Martin (Fred Applegate) and Erma (Joyce Chittick) who've stowed away on the ship while attempting to out-run the law, as well as Billy's Wall Street boss Elisha Whitney (Dennis Kelly) who begins falling for Hope's mother.
What ensues is hilarious old-time storytelling that is surprisingly funny and touching. Most of Cole Porter's songs are comfortingly familiar, but under Kathleen Marshall's superb direction and choreography you almost feel like you are hearing them for the first time. The jokes at times border on low-brow, yet are done in a tasteful manner and with such brilliant timing that you can't help but grin.
Add to that the talented cast and the lush orchestrations and you have all the mixings for a fabulous night at the theatre. There's romance, drama, intrigue and fabulous dancing. The cast bring down the house at the end of Act 1 with the title number, only to come back guns blazing in Act 2 with seemingly endless energy.
Anything Goes harkens back to a time when musicals were appreciated for beautiful songs, talented dancing and first rate story telling. It is a show that doesn't require fancy special effects, gimmicks, superheros or elaborate sets to grab an audience's attention. It succeeds on the strength of the story - the way a first rate show should.
For fans of the classic Broadway musical, this revival won't disappoint. For those who've grown up in the era of the mega-musical, Anything Goes is a fantastic way to showcase the fact that sometimes 'less is more.' If you have never experienced Cole Porter, make sure to get down to The Princess of Wales and take your maiden voyage on Anything Goes - you won't regret it.
When and Where?
The Princess of Wales Theatre
On now until August 18th, 2013