Sublime music, weak story in"Anything Goes"

2012-11-22T00:00:00Z Sublime music, weak story in"Anything Goes"Kathleen Allen Kallen@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
November 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Sorry, Mr. Porter, we have to disagree: It isn't true that anything goes.

For instance, it isn't at all cool that the leading lady in the the Broadway tour of the Tony-winning Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes" wasn't miked properly. At Tuesday's opening night at the Tucson Music Hall she could barely be heard over the orchestra.

And really, you want to hear the talented and attitude-heavy Rachel York in the role of Reno Sweeney. And you especially want to hear those wonderful Porter tunes.

So, one disappointment.

Another: boy, is this a dumb story. And that's coming from someone who loves musical and that era - the 1930s and '40s.

You allow for some - even a lot - of silliness. And there is that. But there just isn't enough spark, enough glue, enough oomph , enough something, to hold the book of "Anything Goes" together, a thin piece about gangsters on a ship, stowaways, impostors, boys meeting girls, losing girls, and finding other girls.

But then, you don't go see this baby for the story, we admit. It's to hear such a glorious score, a sort of Porter Hit Parade.

It's hard not to beam with lines such as "The world has gone mad today/ And good's bad today,/ And black's white today, / And day's night today..." from the title tune.

Or to bop to the jazzy "Blow, Gabriel, Blow." Or giggle with the outrageously performed "The Gypsy in Me" - delivered with a perfectly straight face by Edward Staudenmayer, in the character of a very proper Brit, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (even the name is enough to induce a smile).

The music is why you want to see "Anything Goes."

And the costumes, gorgeous clothing with sparkles and tight waists and flared pants and each piece telling a story with its sexy movement and fabulous '30s attitude.

OK, you want to go for the dancing, too - director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall knows how to put the moves on her dancers, who have a fluid swagger that speaks to the era and the characters.

And that acting and singing. York, when she could be heard, had a weighty voice that carried a ton of "don't mess with me" 'tude - just perfect for the character, a one-time evangelist turned sexy entertainer on a cruise ship.

Fred Applegate is also on that ship, playing a two-bit mobster disguised as a preacher man. Applegate has a comedic streak that allows him to play over the top but to still seem well-grounded.

Erich Bergen is the romantic leading man, Billy Crocker, and he wrapped his cockiness in a sweet vulnerability. And his voice is sublime.

Other than the mic problem on opening night, this production is a solid one.

It isn't the production that we objected to. It's to a play that just doesn't hold together, and doesn't hold together for a little more than 2 1/2 hours.

Ah, but Cole Porter - we would sit through a lot of mediocre material to listen to a few of his wonderful songs.

And that is exactly what you do in "Anything Goes."

Review

• What: "Anything Goes"

• Presented by: Broadway in Tucson.

• By: Music and lyrics by Cole Porter; book for the original 1934 stage production by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse; and new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman.

• Director: Kathleen Marshall.

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

• Where: Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. in the Tucson Convention Center.

• Cost: $29-$90.

• Reservations/information: broadwayintucson.com or 1-800-745-3000. To avoid the hefty Ticketmaster surcharge, purchase tickets in person at the TCC box office.

• Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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