Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Anything Goes

In the past few years, the Roundabout Theatre Company has had a lot of trouble delivering the goods when it comes to musical revivals. Their productions, last year, of Pal Joey and Bye Bye Birdie both suffered as a result of poor casting and odd directorial choices. But their current revival of Anything Goes, directed by Kathleen Marshall, more than makes up for past mistakes. The cast is anchored by a particularly strong Sutton Foster, who makes everything, from singing “You’re the Top” to breaking into wild tap sequences, seem easy as pie. But the entire cast looks like it’s having a blast with the madcap plot, goofy ensemble numbers, nutty scenarios, and rapid-fire corny jokes. Their collective embrace of the material is infectious.

Perhaps most importantly, this production uses its bodies beautifully: the costumes are exceptional (kudos to you, Martin Pakledinaz), and Marshall’s direction is consistently sharp. But her choreography is what takes the cake. Many of the duets and smaller ensemble numbers pay direct homage to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. And the big dance numbers—especially the title song, which closes Act I, and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” which opens Act II—are particularly well-executed. These also serve as humbling reminders that back in the 1930s, “spectacle” referred not so much to moving scenery or to stage mechanics, but to bodies in motion. This is a respectful revival, but one that is also beautiful to look at—and giddy as hell.


James said...

Maybe. But is is a creeky old book that too many are acting out with over-the-top and shameless bugging that they appear to believe is acting. I loved every song and dance scene, the when it came to dialogue, UGH.

lizwollman said...

Point well taken. And I agree with you that there isn't much one can do with the book, which is impossibly dated in a number of ways (the Chinese converts? Oy.). But the revival won me over in the end, in large part because the song and dance numbers were so well-executed that I found myself overlooking the aspects of the show that I think would have irritated me far more had this been a weaker production.