Anything Goes

Anything Goes

Infobox Musical
name = Anything Goes

imagesize = 185px
caption = Sheet music from original Broadway production "Anything Goes"
music = Cole Porter
lyrics = Cole Porter
book = Guy Bolton
P.G. Wodehouse
basis =
productions = 1934 Broadway
1962 Off Broadway
1987 Broadway revival
1989 West End
2002 West End revival
awards = Tony Award for Best Revival
Drama Desk Outstanding Revival

"Anything Goes" is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The book was a collaborative effort by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. The musical introduced such songs as "Anything Goes", "You're the Top", and "I Get a Kick Out of You".

Since its 1934 debut on Broadway, the musical has been revived several times in the United States and Britain and has been filmed twice. "Anything Goes" and "Porgy and Bess" are the only 1930s musicals that are still regularly revived. [ [ Information from] ] The musical has long been a popular choice for school and community productions. ["TIME magazine" reported in its May 26, 2008 issue, p. 51, that this musical tied (with "Guys and Dolls") as the tenth most frequently produced musical by U.S. high schools in 2007.]


"Anything Goes" is a farce set below decks on an ocean liner bound for London from New York. The original idea came from producer Vinton Freedley, who was living on a boat, having left the US to avoid his creditors. [cite book
last = Schwartz
first = Charles
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Cole Porter: A Biography
publisher = Da Capo Press
date = 2004
location = New York
pages = p 132
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0306800977
] He selected the writing team, and the star, Ethel Merman. The first draft of the show was called "Crazy Week", which became "Hard to Get", and finally "Anything Goes". "Hard to Get" was set on a mid-ocean liner that was in danger, but, just a few weeks before the show was due to open, a fire on board the passenger ship "SS Morro Castle" caused the deaths of 137 passengers and crew. According to one version, cite book
last = Jasen
first = David A
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = P G Wodehouse: A Portrait of a Master
publisher = Garnstone Press
date = 1975
location = London
pages = p 143
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0-85511-190-9
] Freedley judged that to proceed with a show on a similar subject would be in dubious taste and he insisted on changes to the script. But theatre historian Lee Davis maintains that Freedley wanted the script changing because it was "a hopeless mess". [cite book
last = Davis
first = Lee
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Bolton and Wodehouse and Kern
publisher = James H Heineman
date = 1993
location = New York
pages = p 332
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0-87008-145-4
] Bolton and Wodehouse were no longer available, so Freedley turned to his director, Howard Lindsay, who recruited Russel Crouse as his collaborator, beginning a lifelong writing partnership. According to theatre legend, the show's new title, along with the title number, was born from the haste with which the show was revamped: at a late night production meeting, an exasperated and over-worked member of the production team cried out "And just how in the hell are we going to end the first act?" "At this point," responded one of the producers, being more helpful than he realized, "anything goes!" fact|date=January 2008


Original 1936 Libretto

Act One

Billy Crocker, a young love-sick Wall Street broker, has fallen in love with a beautiful girl he met in a taxi. His boss, Yale graduate Elisha J. Whitney, is going to travel to London aboard the S.S. "American". He plans to relax before the tremendous sale of his own company's stock (or, in the 1962 version, to make an important business deal in England). Evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney will be travelling aboard the same ship. She tells Billy "I Get A Kick Out of You" even though he sees her as just a friend. Billy goes to the dock to bid "Bon Voyage" to his boss and Reno and glimses the mysterious girl from the taxi. She is heiress Hope Harcourt and is on her way to England to be married to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in the 1987 version), a stuffy, hapless British nobleman. Billy stows away on the ship in hopes of winning the heart of his beloved Hope. Also on the boat are "Moonface" Martin, a second-rate gangster on the lam labeled "Public Enemy 13," and his friend Bonnie (originally named Erma); the two have disguised themselves as a minister and a missionary, respectively, after stranding the ship's real chaplain back at the port. They also, mistakenly, left behind their leader, "Snake Eyes" Johnson, Public Enemy 1.

Billy helps Moonface evade the detectives at the dock, and as Billy doesn't have a ticket or passport, Bonnie and Moonface let him have Snake Eyes Johnson's, without telling him to whom it belongs. Billy convinces Sir Evelyn that he is quite seasick and when he goes below deck, Billy and Hope meet again and realize both have spent sleepless nights recalling their chance meeting ("All Through the Night"). Though Hope prefers Billy to Evelyn, she insists she must marry Evelyn nonetheless; unknown to Billy, she believes her family's company is in financial trouble. A marriage to Evelyn would promote a merger and save the company. The ship's crew gets a cable from New York saying that Public Enemy number 1 is on board. Moonface admits his true identity to Billy and he and Bonnie conspire to disguise Billy as a crew member since he is now presumed to be Snake Eyes Johnson. Bonnie obtains a sailor suit for him.

A quartet of sailors proclaim that "There'll Always Be a Lady Fair" waiting on shore for each of them. On deck, Bonnie proclaims, "Where Are the Men?", attracting a group of sailors and dancing off with them. She returns with a sailor suit for Billy.

Hope discusses her impending marriage with Evelyn and discovers that he is not particularly pleased with the engagement either. Billy asks Reno to help separate Evelyn and Hope, and she agrees. Billy and Reno declare to each other, "You're the Top". Reno is successful enough with Evelyn to earn an invitation for a drink in his cabin. She and Moon plot that Moon should burst into the cabin and discover Reno half-naked in Evelyn's arms, providing sufficient reason for breaking off the engagement. However, when Moon breaks into the room, machine gun in tow, he instead sees Reno fully-dressed and Evelyn nearly undressed. Moon tries to invent some indecent explanation for the situation, but Evelyn insists that he would be quite pleased by any rumor depicting him as a passionate lover, especially if Hope heard it. Moon admits that the plot has failed.

The crew has caught on to Billy's sailor disguise, and Moon and Reno create a new disguise for him from a stolen pair of trousers, a drunk's jacket, and hair from Mrs. Wentworth's Pomeranian made into a beard. Reno tells Billy that Evelyn has kissed her, and she is sure she will be Lady Oakleigh soon since nowadays "Anything Goes". Mrs. Wentworth angrily pulls off Billy's beard and the crew and passengers realize he must be the wanted man. As Snake Eyes Johnson, Billy is an instant celebrity.

Act Two

Billy, presumed to be "Public Enemy Number One", is honored by both crew and passengers. He tells the Captain that Moon (who is still disguised as a minister) is helping him reform from his wicked ways. Moon is asked to lead a revival in the ship's lounge. Reno puts her evangelistic training to good use and leads the anthem "Blow, Gabriel, Blow". The passengers confess their sins to the "Reverend", and Sir Evelyn admits to a one-night stand with a young Chinese woman. Hope is not impressed with Billy's charade, and he confesses to everyone that he is not really Snake Eyes Johnson. Moon attempts to compensate by revealing that he is not a minister; he is Public Enemy Number Thirteen. The captain is not impressed and sends them to the brig.

Moon tries to cheer Billy up by urging him to "Be Like the Bluebird". Billy doubts he will ever see Hope again; he and Moon cannot leave their cell until they return to America. Their card-playing Chinese cellmates, who have been imprisoned for winning all the cash in third class, will be put ashore in England. Moon and Billy win their clothes in a game of strip poker.

Billy, Moon, and Reno show up at the Oakleigh estate in Chinese garb. Billy and Moon tell Oakleigh's uncle that they are the parents of "Plum Blossom" and demand reparation for Evelyn's promiscuity. Uncle Oakleigh offers to buy them off and Moon gleefully accepts the cash, much to Billy and Reno's chagrin.

Billy and Reno find Hope and Evelyn, who are unhappy with the prospect of their matrimony. Hope declares that she wildly wants to marry Billy("The Gypsy in Me"). Billy spots Whitney and finally learns that Evelyn and Hope's planned marriage is really an awkward business merger. Billy savvily knows that Uncle Oakleigh is manipulating them all; Hope's company is really worth millions and Billy informs Whitney of that fact. Whitney offers to buy the firm from Hope at an exhorbitant price, and she accepts. The marriage is called off since a merger is now impossible. Billy and Hope get married, as do Reno and Evelyn. A cable from the U.S. government fixes Billy's passport problems and declares Moon "harmless." Moon indignantly pockets Oakleigh's check and refuses to return it.


*Reno Sweeney — a nightclub singer turned Evangelist
*Billy Crocker — assistant to Elisha, love-struck would-be suitor to Hope
*Hope Harcourt — American debutante and the object of Billy's affection
*Mrs Evangeline Harcourt — Hope's mother
*Lord'Evelyn Oakleigh — Hope's wealthy English fiancee
*Moonface Martin — a second-rate gangster, "Public Enemy Number 13", soon to not be thought as a public enemy at all
*Bonnie/Erma (1987 revival) — sidekick to Moonface
*Elisha J. Whitney — Ivy league Wall Street banker, Billy's boss
*Reno’s Angels (Purity, Charity, Chastity and Virtue)(1934 original & 1962 revival/2002 concert)
*Ritz Quartette (1934 original)/Lady Fair Quartet (1987 revival)
*Ching and Ling §— Two Chinese 'Converts' who accompany Bishop Henry T. Dobson
*Ships crew, Passengers, Reporters, Photographers and F.B.I. Agents

§"Luke" and "John" in the 1987 revival and 2002 concert

Musical numbers

;Act 1
*I Get a Kick Out of You -- Reno Sweeney
*Bon Voyage (There's No Cure Like Travel) --Sailor, Girl and Ship's Crew and Company
*All Through the Night (in Act II in 1987 revival) -- Billy Crocker, Hope Harcourt and Men
*Easy to Love (1987 revival) -- Billy Crocker
*I Want to Row on the Crew (not in 1934) -- Elisha J. Whitney
*Sailor's Shanty -- Quartet (Yoda and company)
*Where Are the Men? (only in 1934)
*You're the Top -- Reno Sweeney and Billy Crocker
*Friendship (first in 1962 revival) -- Reno Sweeney and Moonface Martin
*It's DeLovely (first in 1962 revival) -- Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt
*Anything Goes -- Reno Sweeney and Company;Act 2
*Public Enemy Number One -- Captain, Purser, Company
*Let's Step Out -- Bonnie (only in 1962 revival)
*What a Joy to be Young (only in 1934) -- Hope
*Let's Misbehave (only in 1962 revival) -- Reno and Sir Evelyn
*Blow, Gabriel, Blow -- Reno Sweeney and Company
*Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye (not in 1934) -- Hope Harcourt
*Be Like the Bluebird -- Moonface Martin
*All Through the Night (Reprise) --Billy Crocker, Hope Harcourt and Men
*Buddie, Beware (1987 revival) -- Erma and Sailors
*I Get a Kick Out of You (Reprise) (finale for 1987) -- Company
*The Gypsy in Me -- Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (sung by Hope in 1934)
*Take Me Back To Manhattan (only in 1962 revival) -- Reno Sweeney

;"This chart shows all songs that were performed; placement of the songs varied. Source: [ Internet Broadway Database for "Anything Goes" ] "


The musical had a pre-Broadway tryout in Boston, before opening at the Alvin Theatre, New York, on November 21 1934; it ran for 420 performances, becoming the fourth longest-running musical of the 1930s, despite the impact of the Great Depression on Broadway patrons' disposable income. Directed by Howard Lindsay with choreography by Robert Alton, it starred Ethel Merman as Reno Sweeney, William Gaxton as Billy Crocker and Victor Moore as Moonface Martin.

Charles B. Cochran, a British theatrical manager had bought the London performance rights during the show's Boston run, and he produced it at the Palace Theatre; the show opened on June 14 1935 and ran for 261 performances. The cast included Jeanne Aubert as Reno Sweeney (the name changed to Reno La Grange), Sydney Howard as Billy Crocker and Jack Whiting as Moonface Martin. P G Wodehouse was engaged to replace the specifically American references in the book and lyrics with references more appropriate to an English audience. [cite book
last = Day
first = Barry
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The Complete Lyrics of P G Wodehouse
publisher = Scarecrow Press
date = 2004
location = Lanham, MD
pages = pp 407–14
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0-8108-4994-1

The production was revived in an Off-Broadway production in 1962, opening on May 15, 1962 at the Orpheum Theatre. It was directed by Lawrence Kasha and the cast included Hal Linden as Billy Crocker and Eileen Rodgers as Reno Sweeney. For this revival, the script was revised to incorporate several of the changes from the movie versions. Most changes revolved around the previously minor character Erma, whose name was changed to Bonnie. This revision was also the first stage version of "Anything Goes" to incorporate several songs from other Porter shows: "Take Me Back to Manhattan" from "The New Yorkers", 1930, "It's De-Lovely" from "Red Hot and Blue", 1934, "Friendship" from "DuBarry Was a Lady", 1939, and "Let's Misbehave" from "Paris", 1928. For the 1987 Broadway revival, John Weidman and Timothy Crouse (Russel's son) updated the book and re-ordered the musical numbers, borrowing Cole Porter pieces from other Porter shows, a practice which the composer often engaged in. ("Easy To Love" was from the 1936 movie "Born to Dance".) The music was rescored for a 16-piece swing band, in the style of early Benny Goodman, instead of the earlier 28-piece orchestrations. [ "New York Times", October 18, 1987, Stephen Holden, p. 90] This production opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, in Lincoln Center, on October 19, 1987, and ran for 784 performances. With direction by Jerry Zaks and choreography by Michael Smuin, it starred Patti Lupone as Reno Sweeney and Howard McGillin as Billy. It was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, and won the 1988 Tony Award for Best Revival and Best Choreography. Leslie Uggams and Linda Hart were replacement Renos.

This version was also produced in London in 1989, at the Prince Edward Theatre with Elaine Paige in the role of Reno Sweeney (she was replaced for the last month or so of the run by Louise Gold).

The National Theatre revived the musical, which opened at the Olivier Theatre on December 18, 2002 and then transferred (2003) to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, in the West End. Directed by Trevor Nunn, it starred Sally Ann Triplett and John Barrowman.

Movie versions

:"For more information about these film versions, see Anything Goes (film)"

In 1936, Paramount Pictures turned " Anything Goes" into a movie musical. It starred Ethel Merman (again as Reno), with Bing Crosby in the (newly renamed) role of Billy Crocker.

The book was drastically rewritten for a second film version, also by Paramount, released in 1956. This movie again starred Bing Crosby (whose character was once more renamed) and Donald O'Connor.

Television version

In 1954, Ethel Merman, at the age of fifty, reprised her role as Reno in a specially adapted television version of the musical, co-starring Frank Sinatra as the hero, now renamed Harry Dane, and Merman's good friend Bert Lahr (who had co-starred with her on Broadway in "DuBarry Was a Lady") as Moonface Martin. This version was shown as an episode of the "Colgate Comedy Hour", and has been preserved on kinescope. This version used five of the original songs plus several other Porter numbers, retained the shipboard setting, but had a somewhat different plot. [ [ The Insider, Ken Mandelbaum, October 5, 2005] ] It has been reported that Merman and Sinatra did not get along well; this was the only time they worked together.Fact|date=April 2007

Awards and nominations

*1962 Revival:Outer Critics Circle Awards-Best Revival

*1987 Revival:Outer Critics Circle Awards-Best Revival:Tony Awards::Reproduction (Play or Musical) WINNER::Best Choreography WINNER::Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Bill McCutcheon) WINNER::Best Actor in a Musical (nominee)::Best Actress in a Musical (nominee)::Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Anthony Heald) (nominee)::Best Scenic Design (nominee)::Best Costume Design (nominee)::Best Lighting Design (nominee)::Best Direction of a Musical (nominee)

:Drama Desk Awards ::Outstanding Revival WINNER::Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Patti LuPone) WINNER::Outstanding Choreography WINNER::Outstanding Actor in a Musical (nominee)::Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (McCutcheon, Heald) (nominees)::Outstanding Director of a Musical (nominee) ::Outstanding Orchestration (nominee)::Outstanding Costume Design (nominee)::Outstanding Lighting Design (nominee)::Outstanding Set Design (nominee)

*2002 London Revival:Olivier Awards::Outstanding Musical Production WINNER

In popular culture

:"For more information about the title song and references to it in popular culture, see Anything Goes (song)"

*Title song was used for PBS' American Experience documentary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt because of the last verse of the song.
*In the 1974 movie "Blazing Saddles", "I Get a Kick Out of You" is performed comedically by Cleavon Little and the other actors portraying black railroad workers, complete with a full harmony arrangement.
*In the 1984 film, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", Kate Capshaw performs the title song in Mandarin.
*In the "Family Guy" episode Saving Private Brian, the Sergeant trainer claims "Anything Goes" to be one of his most favorite shows.
*Lucy and Ethel sing "Friendship" in an episode of "I Love Lucy".
*Felix and Oscar from "The Odd Couple" sang "Friendship" on their 1973 record called "The Odd Couple Sings".
*In an episode of "Summer Heights High" Mr G cancels a production of "Anything Goes" one week before opening.
*In "Friend Like Me" which is part of "Disney Sing Along Songs", "Friendship" is sung by Mickey, Donald and Goofy.
*In the play "Dancing at Lughnasa" by Irish playwirght "Brian Friel", the song Anything Goes is played on the Radio and sung by some of the characters.


External links

* [ Internet Broadway Database listing for premier production]
* [ Lortel listing for 1962 off-Broadway revival]
* [ Internet Broadway Database listing for 1987 revival]
* [ Internet Broadway Database listing for 2002 concert]
* [ Tams-Witmark listing for 1987 production]
* [ Tams-Witmark listing for 1962 production]
* [ Notes on history of Anything Goes]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Anything Goes — ist eine Musical Comedy mit der Musik und den Gesangstexten von Cole Porter. Das Buch stammt von Guy Bolton und P. G. Wodehouse, die Überarbeitung von Russel Crouse und Howard Lindsay, der auch Regie führte. Produziert wurde die Show von Vinton… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • anything goes — Any sort of behaviour, dress, person, etc is tolerated or accepted • • • Main Entry: ↑any * * * anything goes phrase used for saying that any type of behaviour is possible or allowed in a particular situation We welcome students’ views, but that… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Anything goes — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Film Anything Goes, comédie musicale de Cole Porter créée à Broadway en 1934, ayant fait l objet de deux adaptations au cinéma : Anything Goes, film… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Anything Goes — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Anything Goes es una canción compuesta por Cole Porter para el musical con el mismo nombre. Es una de sus composiciones más famosas, junto a otras como I ve Got You Under My Skin o Night And Day. Ha sido versionada… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Anything goes — Der dem gleichnamigen Musical entliehene Slogan anything goes wurde von dem Philosophen Paul Feyerabend maßgeblich in seinen beiden Werken Wider den Methodenzwang (Against Method, 1975) und Erkenntnis für freie Menschen (Science in a Free Society …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • anything goes — Der dem gleichnamigen Musical entliehene Slogan anything goes wurde von dem Philosophen Paul Feyerabend maßgeblich in seinen beiden Werken Wider den Methodenzwang (Against Method, 1975) und Erkenntnis für freie Menschen (Science in a Free Society …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Anything Goes — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Film Anything Goes, comédie musicale de Cole Porter créée à Broadway en 1934, ayant fait l objet de deux adaptations au cinéma : Anything Goes, film… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • anything goes — there are no rules; expect anything to happen    Anything goes during Stampede week. People do crazy things! …   English idioms

  • anything goes — used for saying that any type of behaviour is possible or allowed in a particular situation We welcome students views, but that does not mean that anything goes …   English dictionary

  • anything goes — any|thing goes [ eniθiŋ gous] <engl. ; »alles geht«> Schlagwort für die Vielfalt der Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten in der ↑Postmoderne …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”