Roush Review: Tap-Happy Sutton Foster in Slap-Happy ‘Anything Goes’

Sutton Foster in the West End's filmed production of 'Anything Goes' at the Barbican Theatre
Review
Tristram Kenton

To borrow from the great Cole Porter, you’ll get a kick out of Sutton Foster.

As the brassy Reno Sweeney, the Younger star is positively ageless in a giddy revival of Porter’s 1930s musical, Anything Goes. When she’s not belting classic tunes (“You’re the Top,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow”), Foster jokes and tirelessly taps her way into musical-comedy heaven. She beams and glows with delight as she delivers this timeless material with verve and blissfully old-fashioned showmanship.

Currently packing New York’s Winter Garden Theatre opposite Hugh Jackman in a Tony-nominated smash-hit revival of The Music Man, Foster had an earlier success on Broadway with Anything Goes (winning a 2011 Tony Award), more recently reprising the role on London’s West End (earning a 2022 Olivier Award nomination). In this swank Great Performances presentation, filmed during her run last year at London’s Barbican Theatre, Foster’s wisecracking entertainer Reno (“I’ll be saving sinners twice a night in the ship’s lounge”) is the indefatigable life of the party aboard the ocean liner SS American, a ship full of dancing fools where a cornball farce unfolds that’s almost too silly for words.

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Forget what there is of the plot involving mistaken identities, gangsters and moony-eyed ingenues. (When a character complains, “I’m not sure I follow this,” you’ll nod in happy agreement.) Anything Goes is pure entertainment, a guaranteed two-and-a-half-hour grin, with showstoppers that include Foster’s hilarious “Friendship” duet with a marvelously hammy Robert Lindsay (as “Public Enemy#13,” Moonface Martin) and the indelible title song that provides the Act 1 finale.

A glimpse of stocking may no longer be looked on as something shocking, but no matter how often you watch this rousing and tongue-twisting dance number—Kathleen Marshall won a well-deserved Tony for her playful choreography—you may feel like giving this great performer and the rest of the cast a standing ovation in your own living room.

Anything Goes, Friday, May 13, 9/8c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)