“Anything Goes” Shines at The Golden Gate

– Judy Elkind

The Broadway Tour of Anything Goes seems to fit all the pieces perfectly together: pleasantly familiar Cole Porter tunes, a dazzling charismatic cast, tap dancing like you wouldn’t believe, and of course, an abundance of sailors in uniform.

You might not think they’ll be anything familiar about a revival of a musical originally debuted in 1934, but everything from the songs and costumes, down to the inflection of speech and saucy struts, conjure a warm nostalgia coupled with great humor. Watching the action unfold on stage feels like screening a favorite old movie, but with the contagious energy and dynamics of live theater. With show stopping numbers like “Anything Goes” at the end of Act I and “Blow Gabriel Blow” toward the start of Act II, it’s clear the magic comes from a brilliant creative team and cast. Though anyone who has heard about the show knows what awaits, these numbers go beyond expectations. Just when you think it’s over and are fully blown away, everyone will freeze frame for just a second and start back up again. But it isn’t too much—it just keeps getting better.

Kathleen Marshall’s direction and choreography hypnotize the audience’s attention, and Rachel York’s performance makes you follow Reno Sweeney’s every word and motion. The character of a post-depression, free-spirited woman rings true today, and one who headlines a nightclub with an act involving “angels” and redemption make it even better. With such entertaining characters as a Public Enemy #14 mobster, and egregious attempts at disguise, there is never a dull moment as the musical shoots through joke after number after joke until the end. So yes, the show momentarily slides into the silly, or over the top, and sometimes it seems these individuals have fallen in love just too quickly, but that’s all part of the fun. These aspects tie the show together, and bring the audience along for the ride as two hours fly by like nothing.

The tour is currently making its rounds through the country, and Anything Goes is only playing in San Francisco until February 3. So I honestly advise you get a group of friends of family together and check out the show for a night of fun that will leave you singing along when you leave the theater. I really mean it. There were at least five people within earshot while waiting for Bart humming the tunes, or mouthing the words, and I may or may not have been one of them.

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