Stage review: Touring production of 'Anything Goes' takes audiences back to simpler times

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So much praise has been heaped on this revival (and revision) of the 1934 musical from Tony awards to box-office receipts that another review might be gilding the lily, but as Cole Porter says, "Anything goes."

Porter's preciously clever title song epitomizes sophistication, 1930s style, and that's what this sparkling and lavish production delivers. From the huge ocean liner set to the snappy dance numbers choreographed by Pittsburgher Kathleen Marshall, "Anything Goes" is entertainment at its happiest and most mindless.

In a week of tragedy, the show lifts us back into a simpler time when sex was safe, if even a three-way in a lifeboat, and all we needed was true love, martinis and a stock-market fortune.

The curious character of Reno Sweeney, nightclub bombshell AND evangelist, created from the fertile mind of P.G. Wodehouse, et al., glows with the enthusiastic performance of Rachel York, a Broadway veteran whose Mae West delivery of innuendo, graceful dancing and song-belting power drive the engines of the S.S. American on its wacky voyage to multiple marriages.

Ms. Marshall cleans out the unofficial "Hoofer's Guide to Dance Steps in a Musical" for the show's biggest tap number to close Act 1. It inspired a torrent of applause because it was exactly what we would expect from a 79-year-old show, steps that were cliches even before Fred Astaire was born. Ms. Marshall also pays homage to the fabled dancer and his movie partner, Ginger Rogers, with their signature moves.

'Anything Goes'

Where: Heinz Hall, Downtown.

When: 7:30 p.m. today; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 6 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $20-$62. 412-392-4900.

As the program shows, hundreds of people are responsible for this top-of-the-line production, now touring the country from Roundabout Theatre in New York in the Broadway Across America series, sponsored here by PNC.

It runs like a well-tuned Duesenberg and is just as richly appointed, with stunning costumes cloaking Ms. York and her band of dancers, Charity, Purity, Chastity and Virtue, down to the smoking jacket of the loutish Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, hilariously played by Edward Staudenmayer.

Ms. Marshall, who also directed, has a solid core of stage veterans to meet the show's high standards, including Fred Applegate as Public Enemy No. 13, Josh Franklin as the lovelorn Billy Crocker, Joyce Chittick as the lifeboat lover Erma and Dennis Kelly as the boozy capitalist Elisha Whitney.

So, dance and sing your troubles away at "Anything Goes," the smartly professional time capsule of old Broadway. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Symphony co-sponsored.


Bob Hoover: First Published April 18, 2013 4:00 AM


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