Cole Porter Wit and Sophistication – Center Stage at Anything Goes

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by Morey Storck – 

Early in 1934, a well-known creative and production team had been working on a new and promising Broadway-bound musical. The plot was based around an explosion on board a luxury liner and the comic antics that might happen aboard ship before they were rescued. However, at about the same time, an actual explosion did really happen on a steamship within coordinates not far from where their new Broadway show was taking shape. This would be a public relations catastrophe of major proportions and not what a 1934 Depression audience was yearning for.

Anything Goes was the show, and with only a week before opening night, a re-write was needed to change the main basis of the show but keep the essentials of clever, sophisticated, tune-filled songs, a madcap story and bright, imaginative tap-dance routines. That’s what a Depression audience needed to replace their troubles with a lifestyle that most could never enjoy or afford.

They got it. Anything Goes opened with excellent reviews and ran for 420 performances, a remarkable showing for that time. Was this at least one small indication that the country was beginning to smile again? Cole Porter did not believe that his songs had enough appeal to the broader social-minded audience. “Sophisticated allusions are good for about six weeks…more is fun, but only for myself and about 18 other people all of whom are first-nighters anyway,” Porter said.

Yet, this 1934 Depression-era Broadway show has a showstopper song list of envious proportions: “You’re the Top,” “Anything Goes,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” It’s De-Lovely,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” “Friendship,” and “ All Through The Night”…all standards still sung today by America’s popular performers and recorders.

The performance of Anything Goes at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford is headed by a very fine cast starring: Stacia Fernandez (Reno Sweeney), and featuring: Jon J Peterson (Moonface Martin), Zach Trimmer (Billy Crocker), Kevin Pariseau (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh), Tina Johnson (Mrs. Harcourt), Jackie Raye (Hope Harcourt), Mychal Phillips (Erma), and Bob Walton (Elisha Whitney).

Directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, performances run through September 9.

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