The Quintessential Old-School, Broadway Delight.
There is no show on Broadway which is more Song and Dancier or Tip-Top Tappier!
Seeing ‘Anything Goes’ on Broadway was truly ‘delightful, delicious and de-lovely’. It is currently touring America with Rachel York as Reno Sweeney and I would highly recommend people see the show for a feel-good night out with the best of Broadway.
I was lucky enough to see ‘Anything Goes’ twice on Broadway. First in January 2012 with Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney and then in March with Stephanie J. Block as Reno. ‘Anything Goes’ starred Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney (she was replaced with Stephanie J. Block when she went to California to film her TV pilot, ‘Bunheads’), Colin Donnell as Billy Crocker and Oscar-winner, ‘Cabaret’ star, Joel Grey as Moonface Martin aka Public Enemy 13.
The show is a farce set on an ocean liner sailing from New York to London, it revolves around Billy Crocker trying to win society debutante Hope Harcourt with a little help from his friends, nightclub Diva Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy 13, Moonface Martin.
As a Cole Porter devotee I was absolutely thrilled to see ‘Anything Goes’ and both times I saw the show, it more than lived up to my expectations. ‘Anything Goes’ features some of the greatest songs ever written, ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’, ‘You’re the Top’, ‘It’s De-Lovely’, ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’ and, of course, ‘Anything Goes’.
Sutton Foster was absolutely sensational as Reno Sweeney. She more than lived up to the high standards set by Broadway Legends, Ethel Merman and Patti LuPone and made the role her own. No mean feat! Her Best Actress Tony Award was certainly deserved.
Reno Sweeney is one of the greatest roles in musical theatre. Reno is strong, sassy, charismatic but also very caring and a wonderful friend. In short, Reno is down-right fabulous! This makes her very appealing to a modern audience and she is one of my favourite characters. Plus she has some of the greatest songs ever written to sing! Sutton Foster cemented her status as Broadway’s latest Leading Lady in this role.
Sutton had the most fabulous entrance. She walked on the stage, clad in a beautiful 1930s gold dress, to instant applause from the audience! Talk about making an entrance! She met Billy Crocker at an art deco bar and sang, ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’. The whole scene oozed 1930s glamour.
Colin Donnell was perfect as Billy Crocker. He had the quintessential 1930s Leading Man look and his singing was beautiful. His singing was particularly impressive on ‘You’d Be So Easy to Love’ and ‘All Through the Night’. However Colin Donnell and Sutton Foster looked so wonderful together that you wanted them to get together rather than his character pursue, Hope Harcourt.
The only downside to the show is the storyline is paper-thin and farcical but with some of the greatest songs ever written who gives a damn?! A modern audience would find it hard to believe Billy Crocker’s character would prefer Hope, the rather bland society debutante over the charismatic, sassy, caring Reno.
I wasn’t keen on the character of Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, Hope Harcourt’s fiancee, as he was the stereotypical American idea of an Englishman; aka an upperclass toff. I thought him getting together with Reno wasn’t convincing and was merely the writers trying to tie-up loose ends and give Reno a happy ending.
It was interesting to compare Sutton Foster and Stephanie J. Block’s interpretations of Reno Sweeney. Both ladies are very talented. Sutton Foster’s persona is much more subtle and less diva-like than Ethel Merman and Patti LuPone. If Patti LuPone is The Diva of Broadway, then Sutton Foster is Broadway’s Sweetheart.
Sutton brilliantly, mastered the sound of 1930s singers in her phrasing as did her leading man, Colin Donnell, i.e. they sang ‘ter-rif-ic-ly’ instead of ‘terrifically’ and ‘melady’ instead of melody à la Ethel Merman and Frank Sinatra. Sutton Foster is definitely a better dancer than Ethel Merman and Patti LuPone and so her dancing abilities were showcased.
Stephanie J. Block’s Reno was very much in the Ethel Merman Brassy Broadway Dame mould. I thought Stephanie’s brassy broad take on the role lent itself to Billy Crocker seeing her more as a friend than love interest. Stephanie had more chemistry with Adam Godley, who played Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, than Sutton had, so it made the ending where Reno marries Evelyn Oakleigh more convincing.
Favourite moments included both Reno’s performances of the showstoppers, ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’ and ‘Anything Goes’. Joel Grey was fabulous with both leading ladies in ‘Friendship’. Reno and Billy’s, ‘You’re The Top’ is also an incredible moment.
It was so fabulous to see posters of Sutton Foster as Reno light up Times Square. It was interesting to see how the posters were subtly changed when Stephanie J. Block took over, the posters remained basically the same but with Reno having brown hair rather than blonde and not being quite as thin.
‘Anything Goes’ is the quintessential Broadway Show. In January, I met the fabulous Lindsey and Anthony at the theatre who I became friends with and in March I was able to go with two of my good friends, Justine and Liesl. After seeing Stephanie J. Block in ‘Anything Goes’, Justine, Liesl and I enjoyed dinner at Sardi’s, the ultimate Broadway tradition.
My friend, Justine perfectly summed up ‘Anything Goes’ saying it was ‘bubblegum for the brain’. The show instantly brightens your mood and gets you into that Broadway Jazz Hands Spirit. After seeing the show, you’ll be singing the songs for days.