Starring Rachel York, Josh Franklin, Fred Applegate. Music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. Princess of Wales Theatre, to Aug. 18.
“Give me one reason to live,” moans the lovelorn hero in Anything Goes. “Cherry cheesecake,” replies his moon-faced buddy. This 1934 Cole Porter classic is a cherry-cheesecake musical: It may not be edifying, but it’s rich and delicious. Kathleen Marshall’s Tony-winning Broadway revival, now raising the roof at the Princess of Wales, is a pleasure to indulge in. Rachel York, as saucy as Mae West and as brassy as Ethel Merman, makes for a fabulous Reno Sweeney, the evangelist-turned-nightclub singer who’s sweet on a young Wall Street broker (Josh Franklin). The broker, in turn, is in love with a debutante (Alex Finke) who is reluctantly betrothed to an English aristo (a delightfully daffy Edward Staudenmayer)—and they’re all on a transatlantic ocean liner, along with gangsters, chorus girls, and a crew of tap-dancing sailors. The songs are vintage Porter, the humour is vintage corny, and the dance numbers are breathtaking. Walk into this show with what Porter called “the old ennui” and you’ll walk back out on a cloud.