Cole Porter’s classic musical "Anything Goes" is exactly the show they don’t make anymore. This nearly 80-year-old gem of hijinks on the high seas of an Atlantic crossing luxury liner is still de-lightful, de-licious and de-lovely. The national tour of the 2011 Broadway revival of "Anything Goes" docked in Dallas at the Winspear Wednesday night and you need to book your tickets for the big show before it sails onto its next port of call.
"Anything Goes" boasts some of Porter’s greatest hits including "I Get A Kick Out of You," "You’re The Top," "It’s De-Lovely" and of course the impossibly unforgettable title song which you’ll be humming for days.
It’s de-lirious to be able to hear these lush melodic songs sung and backed by a full orchestra on the big stage where they originated. For a show that debuted in 1934 some of the lyrics are downright risqué. For example, here are a few lines from the title song:
"If driving fast cars you like,
If low bars you like,
If old hymns you like,
If bare limbs you like,
If Mae West you like
Or me undressed you like,
Why, nobody will oppose!
When every night,
The set that’s smart
Is intruding in nudist parties in studios,
Broadway star Rachel York, last seen in Dallas as Cruella de Vil in "101 Dalmatians" is fiercely fabulous in a tour de-force performance as lounge singer Reno Sweeney. York sings, dances and looks de-vine. If she occasionally gnaws on some scenery, well, the show is called "Anything Goes."
The plot is pure 1930s silly farcical slapstick with jokes you’ve heard a hundred times. Nothing is off limits, including references to the Titanic sinking, stock market crash suicides and a pair of politically incorrect Asian gamblers.
Reno teams up with her pal, gangster Moonface Martin to help stock market schlep and leading man Billy Crocker stop his true love, debutante Hope Harcourt, from marrying English Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. The show’s ending is telegraphed early in the first act, but, well in "Anything Goes" just about everything works.
Billy Crocker is played by swoony, chisel-jawed, Cheyenne Jackson-doppelganger Erich Bergen in a funny, well-sung and well-acted performance. Sweetly studly Michael Milton plays Oakleigh who seems a bit of a bore in the first act but who lets his British hair way down in the physically hysterical comedic number "The Gypsy in Me." Fred Applegate plays Moonface Martin as a big, warm teddy bear.
The actual song "Anything Goes" appears as the last number of the first act and is the framework for one of two most famous tap dance numbers in Broadway history. York seamlessly sings, dances and sings her way out of this extended production number flanked by glam gals and studly sailors and if the number didn’t appear as the first act closer, it would have stopped the show.
The technical showstopper occurs early in the second act with "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and York de-serves every clap and cheer she receives. Really. The woman must do some serious cardio off-stage.
"Anything Goes" is also de-lightfully gay. Cole Porter’s gay life is well documented. The show features a lineup of uniformed sumptuous sailors, two hunky leading men, and a bedazzled leading lady to inspire drag performers. There’s even a prescient gay marriage throwaway line. Anything and everything does go.