Friday night I was back at Anything Goes. I almost never see a show twice (Warhorse being the only recent exception, also because it was so damn good.) But I’d bombarded Joan with my enthusiasm for the show after I saw it in January, and convinced her we had to go back to see it together. I won’t repeat my discussion of the earlier performance (See my blog entry of 1/24/12), except to say that I remain just as wildly enthusiastic about the production now as I was then. There ought to be a way to keep this show running ad infinitum, so whenever New Yorkers and tourists get to feeling down in the mouth, anxious or depressed, they could just pop into Anything Goes for a fix.
Those who worried about the departure from the show of the phenomenal Sutton Foster, may rest easy. Anything Goes retains every bit of its playful spirit, its high energy, its impressive dancing and singing. Stephanie J. Block has stepped into the role of Reno Sweeney as if she’d been doing it all her life. She has considerable Broadway experience (Wicked, The Boy from Oz, Nine to Five, The Pirate Queen, etc. and the talent to sustain her fine reputation. She is clearly enjoying the role, and her voice is rich, easy and flawless. Her dancing is mighty impressive. She’s a taller, bigger-boned woman than was Sutton Foster, which makes her tight choreography and fast tap numbers all the more impressive.
For one reason or another, Joel Grey was not in the cast on Friday night. In January, I’d particularly enjoyed watching him in the role of Moonface Martin as he channeled Joe E. Brown. Initially, I was disappointed, but Grey’s very talented understudy, Robert Creighton did a completely different but no less funny take, which soon had me in stitches.
I was particularly drawn this time to the work of John McMartin, who plays the modest but hilarious role of the elderly intoxicated Yalie, Elisha Whitney. We’ve all seen him in dozens of movies without especially identifying his name, and he’s a five-time Tony nominee. Now 82 years old, he’s keeping up with the best of the youngsters out there on stage, having a ball, singing and dancing his heart out. And he’s great! We should all be so fortunate as to reach 82 in his health and state of mind, and with his agility. He defines the expression, “a real trouper.”
And finally, to my greatregret, I believe I failed to mention in January the terrific performance of Colin Donnell, in the male lead role of Billy Crocker. A relative newcomer, he’s not only a very funny actor, but a fantastic singer-dancer combination. Ah, that it could be as easy as he makes it look! My guess is we’ll see a lot more of him down the pike.
Anything Goes is a sure-fire cure for what ails ya.’ May it run for years. I’ll be back!