Show and Tell: 'Anything Goes' at 5th Avenue Theatre
Show reviewed: Anything Goes, a Roundabout Theatre Company Production at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, through Sunday, Nov. 3
The bottom line
You’ll get a kick out of this Cole Porter musical comedy that debuted in 1934. Set sail with Anything Goes and try not to sing its catchy lyrics out loud for rest of your week and life.
There’s a reason Cole Porter’s musicals are still being staged today and that his song lyrics are belted out by people whenever his name is mentioned in conversation: he is a master songwriter. The Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2011 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Anything Goes lights up the 5th Avenue stage with glittery costumes, a thrilling stage set, and a cast of amazing actors.
I have to admit to never having seen a Cole Porter musical. As soon as the musical prologue begins, I realize this was a major life mistake. Soon enough, the entire cast is making a trans-Atlantic crossing on a luxury ocean liner. Since it’s 1934, there’s plenty of post-prohibition booze, a gangster who is laughingly called public-enemy number 13, a missionary, a millionaire, and an about to-be-married former debutante who is in love with a stowaway that is not her fiancée.
Anything Goes’ central character is Reno Sweeney. The program notes that she is a combination of two people from the 1930s: a former speakeasy hostess and a female evangelist who might have been a sinner instead. It’s safe to say the actress who plays Reno — Rachel York — is the show’s star. She fills the entire theater with magic every time she steps on stage. Although all three levels of the cruise ship are filled with dancers during the rousing and awe-inspiring song and tap dance number “Anything Goes,” it’s York who raises her arms and shouts “Yes!” at the end of the piece. The audience yells, claps, and cheers their response to her.
It’s moments like this that make theater such a memorable experience.
After the show, the boisterous crowd sang and danced its way out of the theater. Two couples danced down the sidewalk as I sang to my daughter, “It’s de-lovely!”
Parents should know
I took my almost 12-year-old daughter to this PG-rated show. Children under the age of 4 will not be admitted. The 5th Avenue Theatre website has great parental guidelines. Read it and decide for yourself. Bridget Summers, Public Relations Manager at the 5th Avenue says, "Children ages 5 and up are welcome at the show, and we know that some of them will have a blast with the fantastic dancing and wonderful music. But there are some kids who cannot sit still."
I asked my daughter if she though the show was too racy, and she answered, “Maybe,” but she agreed that the culture she is surrounded by is far racier than this 1934 musical comedy. Yes, there are many not-covert allusions to sex, and one naughty (made me uncomfortable) dance number that is still so much tamer than today’s music and music video culture (yes, I am thinking of Miley Cyrus). Know that there is mild adult language, drinking (sometimes to excess), and a song with a cocaine reference.
- The 5th Avenue Theater has seat cushions for not-so-tall tweens, teens, and adults.
- If the line at the main floor bathroom is long, try the mezzanine bathroom, located in its Northwest corner.
- Before or after the show meet the musicians tucked below and in front of the stage, and note that most of them play multiple instruments. If your child hasn’t been to this theater before, tell them to look up: the chandelier is in the not-to-be missed category.
- This is a late night and a long time to sit relatively still: Performance runs 2 hours 25 minutes including intermission. Or choose a Saturday or Sunday matinee show.
Where and when: At The Fifth Avenue Theatre through October 3.
Tickets: $40.50 and up. Buy online. $20 youth tickets for tickets purchased in-person at the box office on the day of the show for parents with kids coming.