Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: 2011 Broadway Revival of 'Anything Goes' Sails Into the Stephen Sondheim Theatre

Sutton Foster (center) leads the ensemble in "Blow, Gabriel Blow"
Colin Donnell, Sutton Foster and Joel Grey
Laura Osnes and Colin Donnell
(all photos: Joan Marcus)

As light and frothy as a bubbly glass of pink champagne, the 2011 revival of Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes’ sails into the Stephen Sondheim Theatre with no pretensions. One could argue the threadbare story and politically incorrect portrayal of Asians but that’s beside the point when the aim is to display a string of sterling and gorgeous songs performed by a talented cast.

The story follows Reno Sweeney, a onetime evangelist turned nightclub star; Moonface Martin, a gangster hiding from the law by pretending to be a priest; and Billy Crocker, a young stockbroker who winds up pretending to be a sailor and then a gangster to pursue a beautiful debutante.

That debutante happens to be Hope Harcourt whose fortune seeking mother, Evangeline, has betrothed her daughter to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. In the meantime the ship’s captain is desperately looking for a few famous names to parade before his celebrity hungry passengers.

Those shenanigans aside, each of Porter’s songs are given the coup de grace treatment complete with exhausting choreography. Just consider these classic songs that fill the score: 
“I Get A Kick Out of You”
“You’re The Top”
“Easy to Love”
“It’s De-Lovely”
“Anything Goes”
“Blow, Gabriel Blow”
And it’s easy to overlook the corny love stories and monkey business that link them.

Colin Donnell and Sutton Foster
Joel Grey and Sutton Foster
As Reno, Sutton Foster does not display the pure sass or even sex appeal that one would want in the performer. But what she brings is a go-for-broke delivery of each number and boundless energy with enough of slight street-smart attitude to win this year’s Tony Award for best actress in a musical.

Sutton holds her own against the comic talents of Joel Grey as Moonface and whose constant mugging earns approval and laughs from the audience; Adam Godley as Lord Oakley who unexpectedly and literally commandeers the entire stage in “The Gypsy In Me” to liven up the second act; with Jessica Walter as Hope’s mother and John McMartin in the minor role of Elisha Whitney who both steal the spotlight in their limited scenes.

The ingĂ©nues have a field day in the production with the lovely Laura Osnes as Hope Harcourt proving her durability as a Broadway performer and Jessica Stone as Erma bringing her own share of laughs as one of Moonface’s partners in crime.

Adam Godley, Laura Osnes, Jessica Walter, John McMartin and Colin Donnell
Sutton Foster leads the cast in the title song.
If anyone gets lost in the proceedings it is Colin Donnell as Billy. He is perfectly fine in the role. Dapper and handsome with a talent to bring a singing and dancing justice in his numbers, he is simply overshadowed by the talent around him.

Director and choreography Kathleen Marshall heralds her cast in a wholesome bundle to charm the audience with slight pauses for drama and playfulness bridging her expected energetic choreography in yet another revival. Her assemblage of performers in the title song  and “Blow, Gabriel Blow” almost threatens to make the show a display for these numbers at the expense of what little story there is.

The art deco ship set of Derek McClane and matching costumes designs of Martin Pakledinaz completes the experience of transport the audience to an evening of careless delights.

During the intermission the patron seated next to me complained to her companion that story lack any heft and found the some of the characterizing insulting. She obviously came in with an expectation of something weightier or revised for today’s audiences which is not the purpose of ‘Anything Goes’. This production is so infectious she was applauding and her crowing her approval at the curtain call.


  • Website:
  • Where: Stephen Sondheim Theatre
  • Location: 123 West 43rd Street, New York City
  • When: Tue 7pm; Wed-Sat 8pm; Wed, Sat & Sun 2pm
  • Running Time: 2 hours 45 min (including intermission)
  • Ticket Prices: $92-$137
  • Opening: Apr 7, 2011 (previews from Mar 10, 2011)
  • Closing: Open Run
  • Book Online:
  • Book by Phone: 1-800-432-7250
  • Cast Recording: Anything Goes 2011 New Broadway Cast Recording (available Sep 20, 2011)


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