Anything Goes on Disc
A report on the new Broadway cast recording of Cole Porter's classic musical.
As with any recording of this show about the romantic misadventures of a diverse array of characters on a luxury liner bound for Europe, the most difficult task falls to its leading lady, who must compete with the specter of the musical's original star Ethel Merman. But Sutton Foster makes the show's biggest hits -- which also happen to be Merman's signature songs -- her own with her surehanded, clarion delivery. Nowhere is this more apparent than in "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," which showcases Foster's impressive iron-lunged ability to hold a note as well as the homespun sassiness that she brings to the role of touring evangelist Reno Sweeney.
Elsewhere on the recording, listeners will find that Colin Donnell's vocals are a fine mixture of leading man smoothness and comic panache. He and Foster both revel in the merry jests found in "You're the Top" (preserved on the disc with its ever-accelerating encore). With the show's ballads, particularly the gently swaying "All Through the Night," Donnell beautifully channels the sorts of tenors who were covering the song in the 1930s. And with both this number, and "Easy to Love," Laura Osnes, playing the show's ingénue, matches his delivery with charming and sweet musicality.
Also in the company are two remarkable Broadway veterans, Joel Grey and John McMartin, both of whom deliver splendidly. Grey's work with Foster on "Friendship" is a delight, and McMartin makes for a defly dim lothario with "The Crew Song." and Jessica Stone teases deliciously with "Buddie Beware."
The show uses Michael Gibson's orchestrations (from the 1987 revival), which have been augmented by additional ones by Bill Elliot. The sound's heavy on the brass, but never overly so. In fact there's a surprising lightness to them, even when they are at their most brash.
The disc is accompanied by a handsome full-color booklet that includes not only some terrific photos of the production, but also a fine essay on the musical by Melissa Rose Bernardo. It's the perfect complement for the album itself, which unquestionably should be added to musical theater lovers' collections.
For more information about the disc, click here.
For more information on the Broadway production, click here.