Cole Porter has never proven to be more timeless than with the touring version of "Anything Goes," which hit the Golden Gate Theatre this week.
While taking place in the 1930s post the Great Depression, its still very topical: poor economy, sordid pasts, gambling addictions and organized religion and crime.
"Anything" perhaps could have been updated (but please don't!) to take place today as it still is fun, exciting and relevant.
Much like Porter's "Kiss Me Kate," "Anything Goes" is full of classic songs - "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top," "Friendship," "It's De-Lovely," "Blow Gabriel Blow" and the title tune. It's almost like listening to the greatest hits of Cole Porter.
Many modern musicals are either jukebox musicals (and light on plot) or story-driven but without memorable tunes. "Anything Goes" comes up a winner on both accounts.
The story of mis-matched couples aboard a luxury ocean liner has certainly been told. Even one of the most popular movies of our time, "Titanic," told the story of the class struggles between its two lead characters. But star-crossed lovers notwithstanding, "Anything Goes" has zing, vibrancy and energy - enough to sustain you through its 2:45 run time.
Rachel York stars as Reno Sweeney, a wise cracking, fast talking modern woman who succumbs to sins of gambling and booze and whose love for Billy Crocker is ignored as he is smitten by a more goodie-good girl. York - having to fill the shoes of so many memorable performers who have played Reno before, takes charge of the role and owns it. Perfect comic timing and a great singing range makes her a force to be reckoned with. She also is a great tap dancer. The first act show stopper is exactly that. She sings and dances with a great ensemble cast for a good 10 minutes of tap dancing and she comes out of the number fresh and seemingly tireless just to finish singing the final chorus of the song. How on earth do you train for that - not to mention to agree to do it every night on a multi-city tour?
Erich Bergen as her love interest Crocker is also in top form. His singing is beautiful and tender and he has many great comic moments as he goes through disguises as he stows away on the ship.
The cast is really all excellent but must pay special notice to Joyce Chittick with great Judy Holliday level delivery as Erma and the extremely wonderful and always fantastic Edward Staudenmayer as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh. I have seen Staudenmayer in many a production from San Francisco to San Diego to Broadway and he never disappointments. I've now put my total trust in Staudenmayer, knowing when I see his name is attached to a project, I know I will enjoy it.
And, since I am writing for the GLBT community, the six ensemble men who play sailors and various parts all are fantastic dancers and look extremely nice in their tight white T-shirts.
"Anything Goes" plays through Feb. 3 at the Golden Gate Theatre at 1 Taylor Street, San Francisco. Get showtimes and tickets at https://www.shnsf.com/online/shngoldengate.