“In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, But now, God knows, Anything Goes!” Roundabout Theatre Company is currently producing the Broadway National Tour of “Anything Goes” which is making a stop in St. Paul May 7-12. The show takes place aboard an ocean liner sailing from New York to London. We meet many memorable characters: Reno Sweeney the nightclub singer, Billy Crocker a stowaway in love with Hope Harcourt (an heiress) and Lord Evelyn Oakleigh who is engaged to Hope. The play boasts musical hit after hit by Cole Porter. You can’t help but tap your toes and bob your head when the tunes are being played. The book is well, the book. Nothing extraordinary, many cheeky laughs and silly humor but it is easily forgotten due to the powerful song and dance numbers.
The moment Rachel York (Reno Sweeney) sang the first line of “I Get a Kick Out of You” I was entranced. I’m a hard sell when it comes to women’s voices and she nailed it. She reminded me of a mix between Grace Kelly and Doris Day. That may sound odd but I adore both women. At one point during “You’re the Top” I got teary eyed. She is truly the epitome of a musical theater performer. Her vocal control and ease in transitioning between belting and head voice were effortless. She glowed on stage and smiled through all of her dance numbers. So many people think of Sutton Foster (Broadway star) as Reno and I promise you, Rachel York can hold her own against her. I’d go as far as to say I’d prefer Rachel York – she’s that good. Josh Franklin who played Billy Crocker hit some wonderful notes but for me, Edward Staudenmayer (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh) was the real male lead. His “The Gypsy in Me” song was hysterical and he really owned his awkward lines. Hope Harcourt played by Alex Finke was a bit drab. I prefered her acting to her singing.
All of the women wore beautiful costumes. The long flowing dresses were to die for. The sparkly jewelry hit the light just right and their short curly wigs were absolutely perfect for the time period. The dance numbers were my favorite parts of the show. When you get an entire cast to tap in time, it is mesmerizing. The lines that they created with their legs and arms were incredible. I loved the white tap shoes that matched their white sailor outfits. A few interesting choices were made. I’ve never seen the show done without a live dog but I suppose since it is a traveling cast it would be hard to train a pet. Also, they used a blue spotlight on “Be Like the Blue Bird” which was alright but a bit distracting. The portholes lit up during many numbers which was nice. However, I wish they would have stuck with a few colors and not gone through the entire rainbow scheme.
Little tweaks aside, you do not want to miss this show. Rachel York and the ensemble dance numbers are a treat to see. I guaranteed you will not be disappointed and will leave the theater smiling and humming. For more information contact the Ordway: http://www.ordway.org/
*A special mention goes to Audrey Cardwell who is “swing” in this show. She went to college with my sister at Penn State and it was fun chatting with her at the stage door afterwards.