“Good authors too, who once knew better words, now only use four letter words writing prose…anything goes!”
If I had to choose one word to describe how seeing the 2011 Revival Cast production of Anything Goes made me feel, it would be “nostalgic”.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I was in the drama club production of the show. I was in the dancers chorus, which means I had no lines, but this is a very dance-heavy show, so though I was just one of the throng, I was on stage quite a bit. And since I was one of the more experienced dancers, I was not only in the big group numbers, but I was also featured in the smaller ones, like the delovely little dance waltz.
It’s a classic musical, one I had never heard of until we were told what the next drama show would be, and is what my friends tend to describe as “old-fashioned”. I don’t know if I have a favorite type of musical, because I do enjoy the dark, song-heavy musicals, as well as more rock-opera and modern shows. Honestly, there haven’t been too many musicals I have disliked, so I don’t think there’s a genre in particular I shy away from, I think it’s more about content for me.
Some songs we did weren’t in this production, but just hearing the styling of Cole Porter and Sutton Foster’s saucy portayal of Reno Sweeney brought back a tidal wave of memories. Some memories started coming back the moment the curtains were pulled up to reveal the cruise ship set. I could see the faces of my peers who played these roles, I dug through my memory to try to pull out their names, too. I remembered that the people cast in those roles were a lot like their characters – the girl who played Hope was soft-spoken and sweet, Sir Evelyn was portrayed by a true gentleman with a goofy sense of humor. Billy Crocker was played by an energetic charmer and Reno’s actress was brazen and sassy.
Suddenly I was in the wings of our auditorium, watching in awe as two of my peers, these people I knew, rehearsed You’re The Top with so much pure talent, I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. I was at rehearsal for the big group number, my heart beating in time to the sound of synced tap shoes.
The most jarring flashback was when a line from the show brought back a slew of memories I didn’t even know I had. They’d been buried and lost amongst years of new ones, but as soon as those two simple words were uttered, I was sixteen years old again. Those words? Hot pants.
This show is full of inappropriate humor, so I’m not sure why we were even allowed to do it in our small Catholic school, or why this was the one we latched on to, but the phrase “I have hot pants for you” was used between us for the rest of the year, and even once in a while later on. It was an inside joke long forgotten until that moment in the Stephen Sondheim theatre.
Beyond the raw talent and the memories, the show itself is also just a lot of fun. It’s nearly Shakespearean in its antics, mistaken identity, forbidden love, puns galore – and of course, a happy ending.