Friday, April 8, 2011

Anything Goes @ Stephen Sondheim Theatre

ALL ABOARD! Cole Porter’s classic high seas tale is back on the Great White Way and dazzling audiences night after night with high comedy, stunning voices, and outstanding choreography. Anything Goes, which has taken dock at the newly named Stephen Sondheim Theatre, now features Sutton Foster as the sassy Reno Sweeney and Joel Grey as Public Enemy Number 13, Moonface Martin. This hilarious musical is back and bigger than ever!
 While aboard the S.S. American, a cast of beautiful characters all mix, mingle, and intertwine in a trip filled with dance, disguises, and love. Rather than taking care of business, Billy Crocker decides to jump aboard a cruise ship, under a false name of course, to follow the woman that he loves, Hope Harcourt. Love does not come easy, however, when his assumed name turns out to belong to Public Enemy Number 1 and Hope is engaged to another man. In order to stop the wedding and win over his love, Billy must team up with long time friend Reno Sweeney, a famous lounge singer, and Moonface Martin, a less than famous gangster. Together, the three of them all scheme to bring Billy and Hope together and let their love shine through. Along the way, their lives twist with the lives of a colorful cast of characters, including gambling Japanese converts, a businessman who is blind without his glasses, a sailor loving gangster girl, and a British tourist just learning the slangs of American culture. Confused yet? Yes. Good because that is half of the fun of this brilliantly funny musical, Anything Goes.
Led by two of Broadways biggest stars, Cole Porter’s master piece is stronger than ever. Sutton Foster (Tony Award winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie) plays the sexy Reno Sweeny. Filling the shoes of past Reno’s like Ethel Merman and Patti Lupone, Foster makes the part all her own. She breathes youth into a part that is normally portrayed slightly older woman. Her sassiness, wit, and sophistication come together wonderfully for this role – not to mention her voice and dance chops. Her brilliant performance is matched by the adorable Joel Grey (Tony and Academy Award winner for Cabaret), who portrays the clever Moonface Martin. Grey gives a stunning performance. He is the grandfather that everyone wants – funny, exciting, and loveable. Together, Foster and Grey have the audience in stitches for most of the show, especially after their wonderfully realized duet “Friendship.” Colin Donnell (of Broadway’s Jersey Boys) and Laura Osnes (of Broadway’s South Pacific and Grease) portray the two young lovers Billy and Hope. Their chemistry together is spot on; and their solo work is just as strong. Donnell does a masterful job at being leading man – his charm and cleverness really shine through. He moves the entire show forward with such ease; it is just wonderful to watch. Joining the chaos on stage is: John McMartin (of Broadway’s Into the Woods) as the not-so-savvy business man Elisha Whitney, Jessica Walter (of television’s Arrested Development) as the greedy mother to Hope Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt, Adam Godley (a regular face on the London stage) as the crazy foreigner Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, and Jessica Stone (of Broadway’s The Odd Couple) as the mobster girl Erma. In this truly ensemble piece, the cast comes together beautifully to create the perfect night out at the theatre.
This high seas adventure shines thanks to the stunning direction and choreography of Broadway great Kathleen Marshall (whose past credits include The Pajama Game and Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway). Marshall delivers some of the best choreography to hit the Great White Way in years. Featuring a mix of tap, jazz, modern, and more, Anything Goes delivers enough dances to please all theatre goers. The Act I finally, the song “Anything Goes,” features a full cast tap dance number that fills the theatre with such joy and awe that audience members are left clapping for minutes after the curtain has already come down. Marshall has greatly out-done herself with this jaw dropping revival. Also making this production dazzle is a great design team – from set to lighting to costumes, Anything Goes is a visual pleasure. The workings of the S.S. America sail in onto the stage thanks to the clever scenic design of Derek McLane (current designs on Broadway include How to Succeed . . . and Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo). The three leveled ship is designed beautifully – full sized rooms, jail cells, and lounges move on and off effortlessly in this stunning design. To add to the wonderfulness, Peter Kaczorowski (current designs on Broadway include Born Yesterday and Driving Miss Daisy) provides a masterful lighting design. The bright and colorful scheme brightens up the entire theatre and truly lets the laugh-out-loud comedy sparkle. Also adding the overall picture of Anything Goes is costume designer Martin Pakledinaz (past designs include The Wild Party and Lend Me A Tenor). Pakledinaz’s designs transport the audience back to the glitz and glam years of the 1930s. Sutton Foster sports a new lavish dress decked out with sparkles and beads every time she renters onto the stage – it is a joy to watch. This creative team masterfully brings this old-school musical back to Broadway with tons of razzle and dazzle.
Thanks to the Roundabout Theatre Company, Cole Porter’s Anything Goes is revived with true excellence. This hilarious song and dance show is the perfect escape from reality. An absolute must see!

Review By: Ryan Oliveti

No comments:

Post a Comment