Anything Goes is a powerhouse. It’s one of the greatest, most successful, and most decorated musicals of all-time. The show is frequently produced by amateur and professionals troupes all over the globe. It’s not only popular amongst theater goers but the musical works just as well on the Great White Way as it does at a dinner-theatre or in a high school auditorium.
Yet, Anything Goes is about as fluid as a popular musical can get. It’s been changed several times over the decades. The only constants are characters Reno Sweeney, Billy Crocker, and Moonface Martin; madcap hijinks going down on an ocean liner traveling from New York to London; and the wonderful music of Cole Porter.
Anything Goes debuted on Broadway in 1934 and starred the iconic Ethel Merman. The show was adapted into a movie in 1936 and 1956. Both versions starred Bing Crosby although the ’56 version differed dramatically from the ’36 release. In 1954, Merman and Frank Sinatra appeared in a live televised version. It was reported that the two legends did not get along.
The incomparable Hal Linden anchored an off-Broadway production in 1962. This version was the first to feature “It’s De-Lovely” and “Friendship.” Anything Goes returned to Broadway in 1987 with a production that starred the great Patti LuPone. The show was revived again in 2011 this time with the sensational Sutton Foster topping the marquee.
Both the 1987 and 2011 productions of Anything Goes captured the Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical. The original won zero Tony Awards as it preceded the ceremony by half-a-dozen years. Interestingly, it was Foster not LuPone who captured the Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Both actresses, as well as Merman, played the aforementioned Reno Sweeney, an evangelist turned nightclub singer and one of the greatest female roles in musical theater.
As previously mentioned, Anything Goes is scored with the magnificent songs of Cole Porter. You’ll not only hear the title song but classics like “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “You’d Be So Easy to Love,” and “You’re the Top.” Porter wrote both the music and the lyrics. The book was originally written by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse (who authored the “Jeeves” novels) then later revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.