Anything Goes

Music: Cole Porter

Lyrics: Cole Porter

Book: Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse

Anything Goes was first envisioned by producer Vinton Freedley while hiding out aboard a fishing boat in the Gulf of Panama after fleeing the country to escape creditors. His idea was based on the premise of an ocean liner facing the threat of a possible shipwreck. He returned to New York and, after paying off his debts, began assembling his dream team: Cole Porter, Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Ethel Merman. Soon Freedley had a script that he felt sure would reverse his sagging fortunes. Then, with rehearsals just about to begin, the S.S. Morro Castle went down off the coast of New Jersey. Over 125 passengers lost their lives in the highly publicized disaster. Anything Goes, Freedley decided, would have to be rewritten.

Anything Goes did not actually appear as the title until this second draft and referred to the desperation with which the show was put together. The rewrite retained most of the same characters, but did away with the idea of the shipwreck. The plot revolved around nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Merman), her pall Billy Crocker, Crocker's debutante-love Hope Harcourt, Moon-Face Mooney, and Public Enemy No. 13 who slips onto the ship to avoid the FBI.

Anything Goes opened at the Alvin Theatre on November 21, 1934 and turned out to be the fourth longest running musical of the 30s. In 1987, it was revived at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre with Patti LuPone in the leading role and a revised book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. The 1936 screen version starred Ethel Merman and Bing Crosby.

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