The second rialto revival of “Anything Goes” received rapturous reviews. Leading this remounting of the 1934 Cole Porter tuner is 2002 Tony champ Sutton Foster (“Thoroughly Modern Millie”). With gusto, she tackles the role of tough-talking Reno Sweeney — a part first played by Ethel Merman — and should be rewarded with her fifth Best Musical Actress bid. And this new edition will be a strong contender for Best Musical Revival against the second Broadway remounting of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” that features Daniel Radcliffe in his musical theater debut.
In 1987, Lincoln Center staged the first revival of “Anything Goes.” The original book — by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, with revisions by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse — was revamped by John Weidman and Timothy Crouse. Additional Porter tunes from other shows were added to the mix. All of these efforts were rewarded with 10 Tony nominations and the production won three, including Best Revival against very stiff competition — “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cabaret” and “Dreamgirls.”
This new production follows the blueprint of that revival. And now, as then, the critics raved. As AP scribe Jocelyn Noveck noted, “So delightful, so delicious, so de-lovely are Cole Porter’s classic songs in ‘Anything Goes’ that reviewing this show becomes an exercise in avoiding the temptations of wordplay.”
Ben Brantley (New York Times) swooned, “Ms. Foster has the voice of a trumpet and a big, gleaming presence that floods the house. When she leads the show-stopping ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow,’ you figure that if no horn-tooting archangel appears, it’s only because he’s afraid of the competition.”
And for Elysa Gardner (USA Today), the standouts of the show were, “beloved veterans Joel Grey and John McMartin, respectively cast as the gangster (Moonface Martin) and an extremely near-sighted tycoon (Elisha Whitney). At a recent preview, the crowd seemed particularly enamored of Grey’s bumbling, innocuous outlaw.”