In January, Musical Cyberspace is going to work through a chain of musicals. This is how it works: each day I will discuss, in brief, a musical linked to the previous day’s musical by some kind of common ground. It follows then, that if you – dear reader – liked the previous day’s show, then you might enjoy the current day’s show. Comments, as alway, are welcome!
If you like Mame, then you might like Anything Goes.
Both Mame and Anything Goes feature scores by iconic composer-lyricists, Jerry Herman and Cole Porter respectively. Both shows have a heady 1930s sensibility, depsite having been written decades apart, and both are held together by the antics of a madcap dame.
Anything Goes takes place on an ocean liner traveling from bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker has stowed away, hoping to win the heart and hand of Hope Harcourt, an heiress whose mother has had her engaged to the stuffy British gentlemen Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Evangelist turned nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney, and “Moonface” Martin, Public Enemy #13, help the pair get together in classic 1930s musical comedy style. Highlights include “You’re the Top”, “Anything Goes”, “Blow, Gabriel, Blow”, “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “Easy to Love”.
Anything Goes is one of Cole Porter’s two best shows, the other being Kiss Me, Kate. While Porter wrote many a great song, many of his other shows are less cohesive and/or haven’t aged well with time. Part of the credit must surely be given to the numerous book-writers who have worked on this show, both when it was first written and when it was freshened up in later years: Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay, Russel Crouse, John Weidman and Timothy Crouse. The show also features one of my favourite Porter songs, “You’re the Top”, a deft piece of work that can stop the show midway through the first act if you’ve got a great Reno and Billy putting it across. Reno, a role originated by Ethel Merman, has been played by several great musical theatre divas, including Patti LuPone, Elaine Paige and, most recently, Sutton Foster in the current Broadway revival (who is best when she’s just playing her take on the role and not consciously trying to channel Ethel Merman, particularly when she’s delivering her dialogue).
So, now it’s time to share your thoughts on Anything Goes. And what shows would you suggest to fans of this show? See which one we’ll feature here tomorrow…