Anything Goes

If the Roundabout Theater’s revival of Anything Goes doesn’t make you believe in miracles, it’s safe to say that nothing will. This gloriously giddy production, directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall and featuring a perfectly cast ensemble, is nothing short of a Broadway miracle – a timeless, classic and thoroughly entertaining production.

Anything Goes follows a cast of zany characters on board a cruise ship sailing to England. Billy Crocker (Colin Donnell’) has stowed away to follow Hope Hartcourt (Laura Osnes), who he loves, but she is engaged to a Lord Evelyn Oakley (Adam Godley), a stuffy English man who struggles to grasp American culture. Also on board is Reno Sweeney, a nightclub evangalist, played by Sutton Foster, and Moonface Martin, a gangster disguised as priest (Joel Grey).

This ensemble is nothing short of excellent in every way. Donnell’s Billy is a dapper, handsome, full-voiced singer whose yearning for Hope is authentic. As Hope, Laura Osnes is perfectly lovely, bringing some spirit and spunk to the refined debutante. The two are a perfect pair onstage, especially during the beautifully choreographed “De-Lovely,” evoking the old-fashioned romances of Rogers and Hammerstein. It’s almost impossible to not let out a wistful sigh when watching them together.

Godley gives an understated performance as Lord Evelyn Oakley, wisely downplaying his gag of misunderstanding American slang. His Act Two number, “The Gypsy in Me,” reveals his surprising comedic skills as he gives a performance that is nothing short of hilarious. Billy’s alcoholic boss is played by John McMartin in a sarcastic and humorous performance, and Jessica Walter’s performance as Hope’s mother is deadpan humor to perfection. Erma, Moonface’s accomplice who enjoys her time with the sailors, is played by Jessica Stone in a fun and sexy performance.

Joel Grey makes an impish clown as Moonface Martin, hamming up every moment onstage. Together, he and Foster make their duet “Friendship” into a vaudeville routine, competing for the spotlight. It’s a contest worth witnessing.

And then there is Foster. Words can hardly describe her performance as Reno Sweeney, the nightclub evangalist who is also in love with Billy. Singing, dancing and acting up a storm, Foster is finally playing a role that is truly worthy of her talents. She is stepping into the shoes of Ethel Merman, who originated the part, and Patti LuPone, who played it in the 1987 Lincoln Center revival, but she has taken full ownership of this role. Reno is all her own. Her zesty enthusiasm and joy in playing the role is visible, and it softens the part slightly. This Reno is still sarcastic and witty, watching the antics around her with a wry smile, but she is endearing as well. When she sings, “I Get a Kick Out Of You” to Billy, she infuses it with bittersweet longing and you can actually hear her smiling.

The show is staged briskly, with non-stop action but an even-keeled, pace on Derek McLane’s lovely shipboard set. The picturesque, time-period costumes are by Martin Pakledinaz. The book, which was used in the 1987 revival as well, is old-fashioned, but still enjoyable and even relevant (especially the commentary on celebrity worship). While the production clocks in at almost three hours, it feels like just a few minutes. Let’s hope this limited run extends, because this kind of timeless  joy should not have an expiration date.

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