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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
ANYTHING GOES
at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre

HIGH KICKS
By JESSICA BRANCH

  Sutton Foster and company/ Ph: Joan Marcus

Now in its 77th year, this vintage musical gets a fresh, frothy production that proves it can be as effervescent as ever.

The book, written by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, is an apparently effortless confection of one-liners and gag setups that nonetheless sketches out a farcical plot of multiple musical chairs. Showgirl Reno Sweeney (Sutton Foster) has a thing for aspiring Wall Streeter Billy Crocker (Colin Donnell), who is in turn smitten with blueblood Hope Harcourt (Laura Osnes), who’s engaged to the rather goofy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Adam Gooley). They all end up together on a transatlantic liner (Billy more or less inadvertently), along with Billy’s boozy Yale alum boss (John McMartin), a gangster on the lam (Joel Grey) with his femme fatale friend Erma (Jessica Stone), a minister avec two Chinese converts, and a not-so-motley chorus-boy crew of sailors.

Helping to tell the sundry stories of how true love takes its courses and crime pays passably well, some of Cole Porter’s most famous songs punctuate the comedy, coming so fast and frequently you’d almost think you were watching a jukebox musical: the title song, “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Friendship” and “Easy to Love.”

But however familiar the tunes, you’d never know from watching this production how many times this show has been done before. Director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall keeps the banter brisk and buoyant, with just a few strategic pauses for show-stopping spectacles like the first-act closer “Anything Goes.” Even the most trite treats here – Crocker’s boss’s bar jokes, Reno’s plans to entrap Lord Oakleigh – sparkle with fun, and the stellar cast seems to be having a ball.

In her best performance since Thoroughly Modern Millie, Foster has found in Reno a role that lets her combine her leggy allure with a wisecracking winsomeness, and her duet with Grey’s mild-mannered Moonface Martin is a delight. Gooley stands out as the clueless lord with an unexpected romantic side, while Stone’s sassy seductiveness lets her steal every scene she’s in. Against a spectacular three-tiered set, the ensemble’s high kicks and hilarity belie the musical’s age. And if this is what a septuagenarian show looks like all dolled up, maybe we need more of them.  

 


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