Theatre Review: Anything Goes


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Alex Finke and Erich Bergen in Anything Goes (Image: Joan Marcus)

If you want to be transported back into a time when women were called dames, gangsters carried Tommy guns and happy hour was every hour (probably because Prohibition was finally over), then you should catch Cole Porter’s classic musical, Anything Goes, currently playing at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Sure, the plot is frothy, with lots of mistaken identities, mishaps, scheming and of course, romance, all taking place aboard a steamship headed from New York to London in 1934. But it was written during that time, and people preferred silly over snarky back then. Despite some heartbreak and heartache, along with the presence of a gangster onboard, the feel of the show is consistently upbeat and family-friendly. After all, there’s nothing that a catchy Cole Porter song and an impromptu dance number can’t fix.

And those dance numbers (choreographed by the show’s director, Kathleen Marshall) are phenomenal. There’s little wonder why Marshall took the Tony for Best Choreography in 2011 for the original Roundabout Theatre production. In fact, the show itself won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, and anyone who enjoys an old-fashioned musical can see why: it has Broadway smash written — more like dazzled — all over it.

Rachel York steals the show as lounge singer Reno Sweeney, a fur stole-clad modern broad who’s been around the block a few times yet still yearns to be in love. York defines the meaning of “triple threat” — acting, dancing, singing — and she’s definitely captain of this ship.

The supporting cast does a fine job, too. Josh Franklin is particularly endearing as the lovelorn Billy Crocker, who’s luckily not as delusional as we might think as he stows away aboard the ship on a quest to win his de-lovely love (a de-lightful Alex Finke).

The set is gorgeously gregarious, and the orchestra does an amazing job of bringing Porter’s ubiquitous hits (“Anything Goes,” “I Get a Kick Out of You”) to life.

Anything Goes really is a wonderful time warp in which not only did I feel transported from 2013 to 1934, but from Toronto to Broadway — which this former Manhattan-dweller definitely gets a kick out of.

Anything Goes, Princess of Wales Theatre, runs until Aug. 25

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