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Stage Door: Anything Goes

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The current revival of Anything Goes is a big, beautiful Broadway joy. The production is so fresh and jaunty, it feels like an original debut. A 1934 screwball comedy with songs, this crisp production is a toe-tapping winner. The score is gorgeous, the sets and costumes are gorgeous, and the cast is heaven-sent. Or in Cole Porter's words, the production at the Stephen Sondheim Theater is "the tops."

Of course, Porter's musical numbers are classics -- "Anything Goes," "You're the Top," "I Get a Kick Out Of You" and "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" -- it's hard to imagine any age not being charmed by them. The libretto (originally by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton) has been reworked -- in two major revivals -- and tweaked again here. And it is smooth sailing.

This is one of those Depression-era romantic comedies whose sole purpose was to entertain a troubled nation. Its antics are madcap, fantastic escapist fare highlighted here by Sutton Foster, as nightclub evangelist Reno Sweeney. Foster, who splendidly anchors the production, has got several show-stopping numbers -- all performed with panache.

The story takes place on a luxury ocean liner. Billy Crocker (Colin Donnell) is in love with socialite Hope Harcourt (Laura Osnes). She's engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Adam Godley), but has fallen for Billy's rakish style. To prove his devotion, he sneaks on board. Her mother (Jessica Walter) insists she marry Oakleigh, but thanks to the machinations of Reno Sweeney and Moonface, Public Enemy No. 13 (an adorable Joel Grey), true love wins the day. Throw in a hilarious sex-crazed gun moll (Jessica Stone) and America's fascination with crime as celebrity (consider Porter prescient) and Anything Goes is pure dynamite.

That's thanks to Kathleen Marshall's electric choreography and direction, which keeps the action lively and the dance spectacles front-and-center. This is one of those rare shows where everything clicks. The sets, lighting, costumes are stunning and the cast, loaded with chemistry, is superb.