ANYTHING GOES
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Todd Haimes on ANYTHING GOES

Todd Haimes on ANYTHING GOESAnything Goes is a show that I've wanted to produce for a long time now because, quite honestly, it is pure and total joy. The show is an unabashed farce with a crazy cast of characters hopping aboard the S.S. American and letting their schemes and dreams run wild. It's silly, romantic, and utterly hilarious as these characters let loose, desperately trying to solve all their troubles before the ship arrives in London. And since desperation can lead to ridiculous acts, it's a good thing that, as our wonderful director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall puts it, "What happens on the boat, stays on the boat."

These comedic shenanigans are the brainchild of some of the best creative minds of their day. When work first began on Anything Goes, Howard Lindsay was set to direct, with a script by the great P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton. But as the show continued to develop, and the original writers were moving on to other ventures, Lindsay also took on book writing duties, asking Russel Crouse to collaborate with him. That partnership would turn out to be an incredibly fruitful one, with Lindsay & Crouse going on to write Life with Father (the longest-running play in Broadway history), as well as producing the now-classic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace and writing the libretto for The Sound of Music, not to mention countless others.

But of course, it's impossible to talk about Anything Goes without talking about the great Cole Porter. This show is considered to have his greatest score, and with a collection of work like Porter's, that is certainly saying something. Known for his clever, bawdy, and complex lyrics, Porter's songs reflect the kind of life that he led. Growing up in luxury, Porter would go on to socialize with only the most fashionable crowd. His lyrics are crowded with references that show off both his dazzling wit and the illustrious circle in which he traveled.

Porter was well-known for his habit of pilfering songs from his own vast library of work and reappropriating them for new projects. Over the years, this habit was picked up by those wishing to revive Anything Goes, and today some of the songs most closely associated with the show are actually not from the original 1934 production. For the last revival of Anything Goes back in 1987, Timothy Crouse (son of Russel) and John Weidman (son of the great writer Jerome Weidman) took on the task of revising the show's book, which allowed for the reordering of some songs and the inclusion of some others from the Porter canon. To me, the work that they did absolutely revitalized Anything Goes, which is why we'll be hewing most closely to that version of the show in our new production. When you look back at the 1934 original, that production had, of course, the title song and great tunes like "Blow Gabriel Blow" and "You're the Top," but it didn't feature "De-Lovely," "Friendship," or "Easy to Love." Personally, I can't imagine doing Anything Goes without these songs, and I think that Porter would approve of giving audiences the chance to hear them again.

Anything Goes is a champagne fizz of a musical, and I think we've got exactly the right team in place to really make it pop. Kathleen Marshall showed us in The Pajama Game that she is the best in the business at making a classic musical come back to vibrant life. And I couldn't be more thrilled to have Sutton Foster joining the line of iconic women (from Ethel Merman to Patti LuPone) to have played the fabulous role of Reno Sweeney. And this time, perhaps for the first time, Reno will be leading the company in the fantastic dances that Kathleen has crafted.

One of the most amazing things about Anything Goes is that it became a huge hit just at a time when this country was dealing with the Great Depression and money to spend on entertainment was as tight as it's ever been. The fact that people still turned out in droves to escape into the joy of this show speaks volumes, and I hope that it will have the same power to delight and transport you today.

As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts on this production. Please continue to email me with your feedback at artisticoffice@roundabouttheatre.org. I truly can't wait to hear your response to Anything Goes (just wait until you hear this cast sing!).

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director

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