Top 10 facts about Anything Goes The Musical

Posted on 18 December 2020

There's no doubt that one of the most timeless musical comedies to ever grace the stage is the melodic and witty musical Anything Goes. Having first premiered on Broadway in 1934 and a year later in the West End, this nutty production filled with nautical nonsense long before SpongeBob Squarepants was even a thing is finally set to return to the London theatre stage next year.

Anchors away, my boys! The highly anticipated revival, which heads to The Barbican on 8 May 2021, is bound to be a nostalgic marvel, chock full of some of the catchiest tunes to ever be written for a show of sailors clad in white crackerjack uniforms.

Before climbing aboard this screwball comedy complete with synchronised tap dancing and clever rhyming schemes, be sure to check out our list below for the Top 10 Fun Facts about Anything Goes. βš“

Top 10 Fun Facts about Anything Goes

Anything Goes is indisputably one of the most significant contributions to musical theatre in the last century. The popular production is now set to play a 15-week summer run at The Barbican in London from 8 May 2021 to 22 August 2021.

The West End revival will feature the same toe-tapping numbers by the late Cole Porter that made the now-famous show such a huge hit. From the titular song "Anything Goes" to "You'd Be So Easy to Love" and "I Get a Kick Out of You", theatregoers are in for a real treat after a long wait and a year of theatre closures across the country. To celebrate the third official revival of Anything Goes, we've compiled a list of ten interesting facts about the show that you might not know. Check them out below!

βš“ The origins behind Anything Goes The Musical

American theatre producer Vinton Freedley came up with the idea for a musical set on an ocean liner while he living on a boat in Panama to avoid his creditors after his show Pardon My English became a box office bomb. Hoping to recover from his financial disaster, he quickly enlisted the help of P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton to write the book.

βš“ The initial plot of Anything Goes came at a bad time

Originally titled Crazy Week and Hard to Get before eventually going with Anything Goes, the show's original plot focused on a bomb threat resulting in a shipwreck and castaways on a desert island, where human trafficking was going on. Following a real-life fire aboard the SS Morro Castle, which claimed the lives of 138 passengers, these initial ideas were scrapped in order to avoid coming across as insensitive and in poor taste. The disaster claimed the lives of 138 passengers. 

βš“ A record-breaking musical at the time of its premiere

The musical Anything Goes opened on Broadway on 21 November 1934 at New York's then-named Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre), where it ran a total of 420 performances, which may not seem like a lot in today's standards but was regarded as the fourth longest-running musical of the 1930s!

βš“ The pioneers of the key Anything Goes roles

The main role of Reno Sweeney was portrayed by the big-voiced Ethel Merman in the original 1934 Broadway production while the character was originated in the West End in 1935 by Jeanne Aubert. The stowaway Wall Street banker Billy Crocker (a character likely based on Vinton Freedley in hiding from his creditors) was portrayed by William Gaxton on Broadway and by Jack Whiting in the West End. Gaxton was joined on stage by his comedy partner Victor Moore in the role of the gangster in disguise as a priest, Moonface Martin. The pair were frequent co-stars in several musicals prior and each of the original main Broadway roles was written with the actors specifically in mind.

βš“ Keeps getting better?

Although the story remains the same, Anything Goes never ceases to captivate audiences with its magical charm and musical brilliance, which has managed to keep it relevant for nearly 86 years now.

βš“ Anything Goes revival productions history

The musical has been revived on Broadway twice and in the West End twice. The upcoming summer 2021 production at The Barbican will mark the third London revival of Anything Goes. The 1987 Broadway revival starred musical theatre sensation Patti LuPone in the starring role of Reno Sweeney while in the 2011 revival, the character was portrayed on Broadway by Sutton Foster. The 1989 West End revival at the Prince Edward Theatre starred Elaine Paige as Reno Sweeney while the 2002 West End revival at the Royal National Theatre and Theatre Royal, Drury Lane starred Sally Ann Triplett.

βš“ Not one, but two major movie adaptations!

The musical Anything Goes was adapted into a film twice by Paramount Pictures, once in 1936 and again in 1956. Both big-screen adaptations starred the late Bing Crosby. The second adaptation was less faithful to the original and featured a drastically rewritten book by Sidney Sheldon and a renamed character for Crosby to portray. All less-popular songs by Porter were axed from the second major motion picture and substituted by new songs penned by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen

βš“ The stage as a runway display of costumes

Billy Crocker’s many disguises were inspired by William Gaxton himself, who was a comedian known for wearing hilarious different outfits.

βš“ Anything Goes' writer Cole Porter: Forever young and youthful

When Cole Porter was just a boy, his mother would lie about his age and say that he was even younger than he actually was in order to impress people more with his natural musical talent. Later in life, Porter and his wife Linda were known to have adopted a "live fast, die young" mentality and would often host extravagant parties. He once hired the Monte Carlo Ballet to perform at party and even once rented the entire Palazza Rezzonico in Venice complete with a troupe of tightrope walkers and 50 gondoliers to entertain his partygoing guests.

βš“ Anything Goes tickets on sale now with no booking fees!

All hands on deck! Tickets for Anything Goes at London's Barbican Centre are now available with no booking fees when you book by 11 January 2021! This special offer is valid on all Tuesday through Friday and Sunday performances from 8 to 30 May 2021 (excluding 20 May 2021). Put on your hot pants for a game of shuffleboard and be sure to book your Anything Goes London Barbican tickets today to take advantage of this new deal just in time for Christmas! 

Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

Ephram is a jack of all trades and enjoys attending theatre, classical music concerts and the opera.