Nobody does sleek, sophisticated insouciance like Cole Porter, who delights in giving grown ups permission to play. Anything Goes is light, fizzy, crisp and chock full of giddy pleasure. As the title suggests, it revolves on the improbable, from worldly evangelist, Reno Sweeney, who comes on more like Mae West than Deborah Kerr, to Moonface Martin, who becomes a celebrity onboard ship (once his gangster status is revealed) to Erma, a snappy redhead who is happily, unapologetically promiscuous. From start to finish, Porter loves to wink at the audience, and while the material might not be as risqué as it played in 1934, but it’s still gobs of fun and more than enough to blow your skirt up.
While Reno Sweeney has set her cap for novice stockbroker, Billy Crocker, she realizes he’s smitten with Hope Harcourt, who, unfortunately is engaged to marry Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, once their luxury cruise docks in London. Half by chance and half by design, Crocker becomes a stowaway, where other passengers include : Reno, Moonface and Erma, Hope’s mother, Evangeline, and Reno’s backup singers, Charity, Chastity, Purity and Virtue. As luck would have it, Billy is mistaken for Public Enemy Number One, and thus welcomed by guests and crew with open arms. Reno’s Revival (“Blow, Gabriel, Blow”) would put many Vegas numbers to shame, and needless to add, various shenanigans and complications ensue.
You get the idea. It’s all banter and shtick and dubious plot twists, and the cool, bubbly, infinitely gratifying tunes of Mr. Porter, including favorites like “It’s De-Lovely," "You’re the Top," "Friendship", "I Get A Kick Out Of You,” and certainly, “Anything Goes.” Plus plenty of exquisite, dazzling dance numbers with lots of flawless tap. Anything Goes has the savvy and confidence to kick back and share their exuberance with us. It’s relaxed, but buoyant and jazzed. The risk of staging a show like Anything Goes in 2013 is the danger of seeming quaint in a culture where many taboos have (appropriately) been blown out of the water. Why this saucy, silly, ultimately urbane musical works, is the wisdom of Porter, who understood that when you only invite adults to the party, the crucial restrictions will take care of themselves. It was true in 1934 and it’s true today.
AT&T Performing Arts Center, with The Lexus Broadway Series, proudly presents, Anything Goes, playing February 13th-24th, 2013. 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas 75201.