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ANYTHING GOES presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through Feb. 22. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
Based on the audience’s reaction to opening night, if you are a fan of ANYTHING GOES, there is much to enjoy in this season optional offering. If you are not a fan of this old war-horse of a musical, it might be better to miss the boat.
Originally produced in 1934, this tour, based on the 2011 production, is the third revival. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, the comedy is very broad and maintains its 1930s sensibilities.
The biggest selling point of ANYTHING GOES for me is the music of Cole Porter. The orchestra, conducted by music director Robbie Cowan, was strong in bringing the rich score to life, but I did have trouble hearing the vocals during most of the up-tempo numbers. Familiar songs include the ballad, “I Get a Kick Out of You,” and comic duets like “You’re the Top” and “Friendship.” The act one finale and titular song, “Anything Goes” was a true highlight of the show. Also strong was “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” For the most part, I enjoyed the choreography of director Kathleen Marshall across the show, although the jazz portion of “Gabriel” felt like it dragged a bit.
Visually the passenger costumes had some standouts and the lighting made for some great stage pictures. The main set of the ship was very white with little to break it up. Add the mostly white costumes of the crew and the daylight deck scenes become a bit monochromatic. The small-but-mighty ensemble was solid and impressive in the big production numbers. The leads were capable, but no one seemed to attack their roles and make them their own.
Overall the production felt a bit paint-by-numbers to me. All the elements were there and the final result is a mostly-satisfying production but it doesn’t gel into a blockbuster.
My rating: 3.75 out of 5
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