Friday, March 15, 2013

"Anything Goes" at the Tampa's Straz delights

   Russel Crouse once said that Cole Porter’s songs filled him with such warmth and satisfaction that he felt as though he had just dined on sunbeams covered in chocolate sauce. Head to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa to see “Anything Goes” and you’ll understand exactly what Crouse meant.
   The show – with Porter’s songs, an original book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton Howard Lindsey and Crouse, and a new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman -- is wonderfully old-fashioned and an absolute delight.
   The jokes are corny but still funny, the dancing is wonderful and Porter’s songs still sound clever and fresh, even almost 80 years after the show premiered. There are plenty of familiar tunes – “I Get a Kick out of You,” “You’re the Top,” and of course the title song – but even the lesser-known numbers are packed with delicious rhymes and catchy melodies.
   The plot’s totally silly, basically just a means of stringing Porter’s songs together, and the acting is intentionally broad, almost to the point of being vaudevillian. It’s all fluff but it works.
  Rachel York, whom you may recognize from TV appearances (including a guest roll as a stripper on “Frasier” and a movie in which she played Lucille Ball) is not great in the primary role of Reno Sweeney – on opening night her smile seemed artificial and she kept forgetting to use the faux-Mae West vocal delivery she started out with – but the rest of the cast is a hoot.
   It runs through Sunday, March 17. 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $46.50 plus service charge. 813-229-7827 or

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