Too often, when old chestnuts such as “Anything Goes” get pulled out of the closet, you know what you’re getting. Revivals heavy on nostalgia, light on innovation; you leave the theater feeling as if you’ve seen a piece of history, perhaps, but nothing that moved you, nothing that relates to what’s being done in theater today.
Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “Anything Goes,” currently on Proctors’ stage, is not your mother’s (or, more aptly, your grandmother’s, as the original show opened in 1934) musical. It’s a bright, bouncy, colorful and exuberant show, which is as much of a treat for the eyes as it is for the ears.
Billy Crocker (Josh Franklin), an up-and-coming stockbroker, has fallen in love with Hope Harcourt (Alex Finke), an untouchable debutante. She boards an ocean liner with her mother and her fiancé, bound to London for her wedding.
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Through Sunday
HOW MUCH: $70-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
Through a series of tumultuous events, Billy stows away on the ship to win her over, with the help of his friend, the lounge singer Reno Sweeney (Rachel York) and Moonface Martin (Fred Applegate), the 13th most wanted man on the FBI’s list.
It sounds like a bit of a jumble (older musicals tend to pack the cast more than more modern shows do), but somehow it works. The stage never felt overfull, even when the entire cast was in a number.
Kathleen Marshall’s direction was excellent; she used the various floors of the ship that were the backdrop of the set to her full advantage for beautiful stage pictures and height. Marshall also choreographed the show; the big dance numbers were fantastic (especially “Anything Goes” at the end of Act One and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” in Act Two.)
The entire cast worked together seamlessly, and watching them made for a truly enjoyable night of theater. Fred Applegate’s Moonface Martin — with his facial expressions and demeanor reminiscent of Tim Conway — was a delight; his comedic timing was absolutely perfect.
The standout performance belonged, without a doubt, to York. Her Reno Sweeney, from the moment she stepped on the stage, owned the show. It was difficult to look away from her, even in the large dance numbers. It’s not often you have a performer with that much charisma, who can sing, dance and act that well.
(It did make one wonder why Billy would have fallen in love with Hope, and not Reno — yes, the script is written that way, but it made no earthly sense, since Reno’s character was so fully formed and Hope’s was just “generic ingénue.”)
Intro to a classic
This production is an excellent way to introduce the younger generation to one of the classics — it’s bright and fun enough that they won’t be bored, and the performances are current and lively. If more revivals stepped up their games the way this one has, they wouldn’t be greeted with groans when they were announced.