The touring company of the Cole Porter classic "Anything Goes" dazzled and thrilled in Wilmington last week. Bringing a legendary show like this to life can be tricky in modern times as it does not always translate or it does not remain as impressive as it was in its heyday. Luckily, "Anything Goes" largely works in every way, and this cast is one of the best the show has seen.
"Anything Goes" is the story of a collection of would-be lovers who board a London bound ship. Complete with the type of rushed love declarations, madcap scheming and happy ending that characterized most musicals of its time, this is the type of show that asks that you suspend much of your logic and simply have a good time.
I have to rush into my praise for the ever sensational Rachel York. York is a Broadway veteran with credits to her name that include "Les Miserables," "City of Angels" and, most recently, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." She had to step into the considerably intimidating shoes of Sutton Foster and Stephanie J. Block for the role of Reno Sweeney (not to mention past productions with Patti Lupone and Ethel Merman), and she did so with admirable zeal.
"Anything Goes" is a challenging show, and the role of Reno demands sensuality, vocal power and some of the most incredible dancing of any leading lady. York excelled in all of these, and is probably the sexiest Reno the role has ever seen. Complete with her character’s elegantly revealing costumes, it was difficult to understand any man’s ability to resist her temptation. But as I said, not all logic works here.
York is backed by a strong cast, all of whom get their chances to shine. Whether it is simply keeping up in the challenging cast numbers ("Anything Goes," "Blow Gabriel Blow"), comedic solos ("Buddie, Beware," "The Gypsy In Me"), or lovestruck duets ("All Through The Night"), the show has a diverse format that everyone can find a place to shine in.
I do have to admit that certain parts of the musical dragged, particularly the number of syrupy duets in the first act and basically any song involving Hope Harcourt. Luckily just as the first act was growing a bit tiresome, the stunning title number kicked in.
Perhaps my favorite choreography driven musical scene, this cast did not disappoint in any capacity. It was all of the sexuality and tap dancing fury that I was hoping it would be, and once again Rachel York delivered a jaw-dropping performance.
"Anything Goes" is a classic and a frequent revival choice for a reason: it is timelessly crafted entertainment. The songs still sound fresh, the dancing still excites, and the characters are equally as entertaining as they were in the original 1934 production. A dazzling production backed by an extremely capable and impressive cast allows this revival to shine exactly in the way I was hoping for. This tour is an essential show to attend this year.