(This review is written by American-Statesman freelance arts critic Cate Blouke.)
When Cole Porter penned his classic tune “Anything Goes” in the 1930s, I doubt he could have imagined how far things would really go – both in terms of the cultural license his song describes and the longevity of the hit Broadway musical that takes the song as its title.
Brought to Austin by Broadway Across America this week, the 2011 revival of the 1934 “Anything Goes” playing at Bass Concert Hall through Sunday, is charming even if it inevitably feels rather dated at times.
A romantic comedy set aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London, the show offers a lot of comic relief and some great dance numbers in addition to the Cole Porter classics: “You’re the Top” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”
Billy Crocker (Brian Krinsky) is in love with an heiress, Hope Harcourt (Rachelle Rose Clark), but she’s engaged to a British nobleman, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Richard Lindenfelzer). Night club singer Reno Sweeney (Emma Stratton) is fond of Billy but willing to help him win over his lady fair. Since Billy has to stow away on the ship to try and break up the engagement, he needs all the help he can get.
The show is somewhat slow to start, but it builds to an outstanding crescendo with a huge tap number to close out the first act. Act two is energetic and hilarious, making up for some lost time in the early parts of the performance. By the latter half of the show, the comedy turns truly campy in a delightful way, and it consequently ends the production on a high note.
Emma Stratton is fabulously sultry and adeptly carries the major musical numbers of the performance. Dennis Setteducati (Moonface Martin) is a surprise favorite, especially with his rendition of “Be Like the Blue Bird” in act two.
As the lascivious gangster girl (Erma), Mychal Phillips is adorable, and Richard Lindenfelzer proves his character isn’t the sop we thought he was when he bursts out of his shell with “The Gypsy in Me.”
The costumes in the show are unfortunately hit or miss – some fabulously full of pizzazz, while others are decidedly unflattering for the female characters. The same is somewhat true of the dance numbers, again, with a rather slow and static start to the production that eventually builds to an excellent finale.
“Anything Goes” continues through Dec. 14 at Bass Concert Hall. www.texasperformingarts.org