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"Anything Goes" Tour in Cleveland
Posted by bdboston 2012-10-09 23:28:06

Just in from a great weekend in Cleveland, where I saw the new touring production of "Anything Goes." I saw the recent Broadway revival, and though I liked it a lot, I felt that Sutton Foster was too young to play Reno Sweeney. Having now seen Rachel York in the role, I fully support my earlier belief ten times over. Rachel's delivery of all songs and dialog were first-rate; she plays Reno with the requisite "broadiness," but not overdone. Her voice, in songs like the opening "I Get a Kick Out of You," is smooth and rich as a fine red wine. When belting out the title song and "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," she nails it. And she's got amazing legs to boot.

I was not a fan of Joel Grey's Moonface Martin; to me, his constant mugging got old very fast. On tour, Fred Applegate picks up the pace and is giving a classic vaudevillian performance. With York and Applegate, I found myself liking this touring production mountains above its B'way predecessor. The other actors were well-suited for their roles, and the set was every bit as impressive as in New York.

Very glad I made the trip.

Anything Goes
Posted by bwayphreak234 2012-10-09 23:56:10

Glad to hear you enjoyed the show! Was the set identical to Broadway?

Anything Goes
Posted by bwayphreak234 2012-10-09 23:56:10

Double post

Anything Goes
Posted by bdboston 2012-10-10 08:21:31

I'd say the set was 90% identical. It was a pleasant surprise to see, given the state of touring productions these days.

Anything Goes
Posted by Quiche2 2012-10-10 08:32:42

Anyone have anyword on it coming somewhere in North Carolina? I want to see it so badly. I'm hoping it comes within 60 miles or so of Charlotte, because my mom hates it when I drive more than 1-1.5 hours away for stuff like this.

Anything Goes
Posted by BroadwayBound115 2012-10-10 08:59:31

I kind of wish they put her in the red wig Stephanie J. Block wore. Red is such a good color on Rachel York.

Anything Goes
Posted by ravnquest1 2012-10-10 09:23:14


Durham, NC: 3/19-3/24 2013. Charlotte tentatively booked for Sept 2013, although the cast will surely have changed by then.

Anything Goes
Posted by DottieD'Luscia 2012-10-10 10:18:48

BroadwayBound115, I felt the same way regarding Rachel's wig when I saw the photos. Rachel had a red wig for the Kiss Me Kate tour. She looks great though.

Anything Goes
Posted by JoeKv99 2012-10-10 10:35:42

By "Broadiness" do you mean she acts like a broad? Or that she gives a "broad" performance- as in, not subtle?

Anything Goes
Posted by bdboston 2012-10-10 10:56:49

She acts like a broad, but not over the top/campy. Her speaking/singing voice is perfect for this role.

Anything Goes
Posted by lovesclassics 2012-10-10 14:48:20

Agree on the red hair, though she does look great in these photos.

Anything Goes
Posted by LizzieCurry 2012-10-11 10:03:25

Here's a working link:

And where are Joyce Chittick and Chuck Wagner?!

Anything Goes
Posted by macnyc 2012-10-11 10:48:14

I think Rachel York looks great as a blonde! I would love to see this production, but of course it's not coming anywhere near NYC. (I did see Stephanie J. Block in the role, and thought she was great.)

Anything Goes
Posted by bwayphreak234 2012-11-14 02:13:40

I saw the tour tonight. I saw the Broadway production with Sutton Foster a couple months after it won the Tony. While I didn't HATE the tour, I was most definitely disappointed in it quite a bit.
The first problem is Rachel York. I am not sure what she was trying to do with Reno's character, but her performance was a mess. Kudos to her though for coming up with some of the most interesting notes and riffs I have heard in my life... Some songs and scenes she hit the nail right on the head, but others she just completely missed the mark. Her dancing was not very good, and she looked out of place and confused a few times during the major numbers. The rest of the cast was hit or miss. The standouts were definitely Joyce Chittick as Erma and Erich Bergen as Billy Crocker. Both of them were truly remarkable.
The second problem was the set. I LOVED the set on Broadway. It was sharp, precise, and moved with graceful beauty. The tour consists of wrinkled and bunched up fabric false proscenium arches, and the moving staircase units were banged up and looked like they were made out of cardboard. Also, there was tons of banging and slamming noises coming from backstage throughout the evening. There were several missed light cues, and at one point the spotlight hovered above the stage awkwardly for a couple minutes. Nothing major, but distracting nonetheless.
The orchestra sounded absolutely sensational, and really brought the classic songs to life. GREAT job on that! Overall it was an okay production, but I left feeling disappointed. The tour definitely lacks the sharpness and precision of what was onstage at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, and I really missed Sutton Foster and Laura Osnes. It was still a fun show though.

Anything Goes
Posted by luvbrdway 2012-11-14 14:39:52

I must disagree, bway phreak. I'm assuming you saw it in Tempe, and I thought it was fabulous. I did not see it on Broadway, so can't make the same comparison as you, but thought the entire cast was perfection. How can you say Rachel York can't dance? That tap number was worth the ticket price alone. Holy cow, and that note at the end-unbelievable. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and may go back again before it leaves Tempe.

Anything Goes
Posted by Christoph 2012-11-14 18:51:49

This tour has to be an improvement over the last tour of the show with Leslie Uggams, Rex Smith and Rip Taylor. Taylor was far and away the surprising stand-out as Moonface. Uggams was in decent voice, but could not dance even the minimal steps assigned to her in that production and, at one point, appeared to literally be being dragged across the stage. The less said about Smith as Billy Crocker the better. He is a pleasant looking guy, but his voice was very weak and to say that he comes across as charisma-free on stage (at least in that production) would be an understatement of biblical proportions.

Thankfully, I got to see this on Broadway with Sutton Foster and was able to see what I was missing. And while I thought Joel Grey was a tad labored as Moonface, I thought Foster and the rest of the cast, especially Laura Osnes, John McMartin and the incredibly underrated Colin Donnell really brought this show to life. If the tour captures even half of their magic, it would be a success.

Anything Goes
Posted by DAME 2012-11-14 19:06:34

The tour is wonderful. Unfortunately it is not selling very well... so the houses have been quiet. The upside is that tickets can be had thru all the normal discount programs.

Anything Goes
Posted by lovesclassics 2012-11-14 23:11:39

Dame, I'm surprised to hear it isn't selling well. I saw it in DE (on the heels of Hurricane Sandy), and the theater was packed. And the audience was very responsive. They went WILD after "Anything Goes," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and at the curtain call. They also caught all the jokes and laughed a lot.

I didn't see it on B'way, so I can't compare, but I thought it was terrific. I was so impressed with Marshall's direction and choreography. I really felt transported back in time. It was so joyful, and the comedy was very vaudeville-like. What I especially appreciated was how the entire cast underplayed the farce, making it that much funnier. I always prefer deadpan subtlety to overblown cartoon anyway.

Standouts for me were Joyce Chittick as Erma, Fred Applegate as Moonface Martin and of course Rachel York as Reno. I was astonished at her dancing ability! She didn't just keep up with the ensemble. She LED them. Like one poster above said, I couldn't believe the note she hit at the end of her eight-minute tap break. Remarkable. And IMO "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" was even a bigger show stopper. The audience wouldn't let her move onto the next scene. They kept cheering until she gave a little smile of thanks.

I really liked Erich Bergen as Billy Crocker in the book scenes. He has an easy comic sensibility and excellent rapport and timing with his co-stars. As a romantic singing and dancing lead, though, he isn't as strong. I felt he moved well enough, but his singing was labored. He was flat quite a bit, and he was really reaching for his high notes. His vibrato was weak and thin, too. Because of this, you couldn't really "swoon" when he was singing to Hope. Alex Finke (as Hope) has a lovely voice and moves well, but the role doesn't give her much, and she didn't bring anything more than a serviceable performance to it. She was fine, but nothing special.

As a result, their romantic solos and duets were a bit flat compared to the rest of the show, but there is so much going for this tour that the pace gets picked up again pretty quickly. Sandra Shipley as Mrs. Harcourt is wonderfully befuddled. The gentlemen who played Elisha Whitney (sorry, don't remember his name) was delightful. Chuck Wagner as the Captain had a strong presence and some fun moments with Mrs. Harcourt. And then there was Ed Staudenmayer as Lord Oakley. OMG. His "Gypsy in Me" with Rachel York was absolutely hilarious. Their tango reminded me a lot of the tango Rachel had with Julie Andrews in "Victor/Victoria." I wonder if Kathleen Marshall borrowed any bits from her brother, who choreographed V/V.

I thought the set was lovely, very art deco, and the lighting shimmered as if reflecting off the ocean waves. The costumes were gorgeous, too. And they sure do hang beautifully off Rachel York and her angels. They look like models.

I'm so glad I made the trek. I'd never seen a good production of "Anything Goes" - just really poor community theater. Now I know why it has endured!