True or false: A big musical that runs during the holiday season must arrive with all the traditional trimmings. There has to be a chorus performed around a blazing hearth, a man in a Santa suit, some dancing toys, and a sleigh that flies above the audience.
Lovely things, all, but the answer, of course, is false; our theatrical past offers a bevy of productions well-suited to running during the glitteriest time of the year, sleigh bells or no sleigh bells. And at the top of that stellar stack sits "Anything Goes," Cole Porter's hit-filled swoon-a-thon that's all about high seas, high emotions, and approximately 74 percent of the greatest musical songs ever written.
"Anything Goes" opened at the Ahmanson Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 28. Closing date is Sunday, Jan. 6.
Now, about that "74 percent of the greatest musical songs ever written" claim. Take a look at the ditties that sparkle from this production, like so many jewels around a dowager's neck: "You're the Top," "It's De-Lovely," "I Get a Kick Out of You," and "Anything Goes." Any musical worth its big-eyed ingénue and plucky guy down on his luck would wish for a fourth of those hits.
And as for the plot? There's a trip out to sea, amour, disguises, rumors, intrigue, comedy, and a whole bunch of lovey-dovey eyes being made across the stage. "Anything Goes" was born in the early '30s, a time when people were looking for a lot of lovey-dovey-ocean-liner high jinx in their entertainment. This plot certainly delivered, and delivers still.
It's a perfect holiday treat, right? We're certainly not knocking the tropes of yuletide entertainment, but given the number of cheery, affirming musicals out there, with songs we all adore, why not put a spin on the season now and then?