Cole Porter's 1934 Broadway musical Anything Goes underwent extensive revision for a 1987 Broadway revival that has become the standard text ever since. Timothy Crouse and John Weidman rewrote the script; the song list was altered to remove minor tunes and add Porter evergreens from other works ("Easy to Love," "It's De-Lovely," "Friendship"); and Michael Gibson wrote a new set of orchestrations. The show was a hit all over again in both New York and London (1989), with cast albums reflecting the changes. There was even a British studio cast album in 1995 that provided another reading. Now, the revival has been revived for a West End production that opened at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre on December 18, 2002. So, with this cast album (billed as being the 2003 London cast recording, perhaps because it wasn't recorded until seven months after the opening), the 1987 version of Anything Goes has now had four recordings. This one manages to add 12 minutes to the running time that the 1987 Broadway and 1989 London albums had, mostly by including instrumental sections arranged by Gareth Valentine, plus some dialogue. But the main distinction among the different versions really lies in the casting. Here, Sally Ann Triplett steps into the role of Reno Sweeney, "an evangelist turned nightclub singer," a part created by Ethel Merman. She sings well, but despite the presence of both a dialect coach and someone credited with "company voice work," her American accent isn't very good. Typical of British performers, it is inconsistent; part of the time, she overdoes it, seeming to borrow her tones from American gangster movies (she sings "You're the Top" "yawda top"), and at other times she forgets to sound American at all. The same can be said for the rest of the cast. In the choral number "Bon Voyage," "heart" comes out "haht," and in the vocal quartet song "There'll Always Be a Lady Fair," "girl" becomes "gull," but at other times the words sound like a bad James Cagney impersonation. The secondary characters played by John Barrowman, Mary Stockley, Martin Marquez, and Annette McLaughlin fare better in their vocal interpretations. But this recording still finishes behind other renditions of the 1987 score of Anything Goes.
Review by William Ruhlmann
|Anything Goes, musical play|