Theater Review: Anything Goes
Written by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse
Directed by Kathleen Marshall
Compositions by Cole Porter
Musical Direction by Jay Alger & Bill Elliott
Scenic Design by Derek McLane
Costumes by Martin Pakledianaz
Lighting by Howell Binkley
Sound Design by Brian Ronan
Principle Cast: Fred Applegate, Josh Fraklin, Jef Brooks, Joyce Chittick, Alex Finke, Dennis Kelly, Vincent Rodriguez III, Marcus Shane, Sandra Shipley, Edward Stadenmayer, Chuck Wagner
Tweetable Review: Anything Goes is a magnificently polished and exuberantly talented re-mount that audiences should rush to catch.
The pre-show curtain that audiences view at the Cadillac Palace displays a boat, water and some nice lighting but that isn’t what’s impressive; it’s the size that will just knock your socks off. Beyond that curtain is the cast of Anything Goes, the current road show tour that just pulled into Chicago, and thankfully the production is as big and bold as the curtain that covers the stage.
In this extremely well polished and tightened first national tour directed by Kathleen Marshall, the Cole Porter/Guy Bolton/P.G. Wodehouse/Howard Lindsay/Russel Crouse collaboration is a show that just impresses. Last year’s revival which starred Sutton Foster in a Tony Award winning role now features a grand-sounding orchestra and 32 actors on stage, of which no less than at least 10 stick out in a major way of having extreme talent and know their exact place in the overall production.
Anything Goes looks impressively over-the-top. Staging, Costuming, Lighting and Scenic design have all been renewed and given an Art-Deco, Hollywood sensibility that just seems to pop. Orchestrations and book have been updated to help fill out and elaborate on character/score, but given that the original material was penned in 1934, changes were inevitable. With the hollowed scripts that we sometimes got in the heyday of Hollywood-musical, hollowed scripts were to be expected but the changes here help to fill in the gaps and complete the story seamlessly.
A principle cast consisting of Fred Applegate, Joyce Chittick, Alex Finke, Sandra Shipley, Edward Staudenmayer, Chuck Wagner, Josh Franklin, Jeff Brooks and Chicago’s very own Dennis Kelly all contribute to a show that is not only a fresh & revitalizing take on this classic musical but (in large part due to casting) know how to handle the script with poise and heavy deft. This show wouldn’t be half what it is if it wasn’t for the current cast and it shows. The other half – well that’s all Rachel York, the veteran musical Actress who simply lights Anything Goes up like a roman candle and never lets it extinguish. The actress takes on the bold and brash Reno Sweeney role with confidence, sarcasm and timing that is pitch perfect from start to finish – I could go on for another two pages, but you get the idea.
Overall, audiences will get a big treat by getting out to see Anything Goes. The cast is excellent, the Production values are very high and the orchestra hits the memorable hits of ‘You’re the Top’, ‘Blow Gabriel, Blow’ and ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’ like they own them. Cruises are designed to take you away to a magical place that is full of fantasy, relaxation and carefree life but lately they have gotten a bad rap. The Anything Goes boat will make audiences excited to step aboard and never get want to leave.
Fresh Roasted Rating: Highly Recommended
~ Matt Miles, 24/7 Contributor
Producer of Fresh Roasted Films
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