This is the first blog post in a four-part series written by performing member Danielle Moore, who proposed Anything Goes for this fall’s show. The posts will discuss the history of Anything Goes and why it is a such a great show for Penn Singers.

On November 21, 1934, Anything Goes debuted on Broadway, marking the first, but far from the last, opening on the Great White Way for the Cole Porter-scored musical. An undeniable hit – following the other kind of hit that Broadway took during the depression – the musical’s initial impact is best summed up by the Los Angeles Times’ review headline: “‘Anything Goes’ Scores Real Success.” A ship-set comedy of mistaken identities revolving around nightclub singer-turned-evangelist Reno Sweeney; unlucky-in-love Billy Crocker; the penniless debutante he desires, Hope Harcourt; and small-time gangster Moonface Martin, the original production ran for an impressive 420 performances.

Ethel Merman as Reno Sweeney in the original 1934 production of Anything Goes
The Los Angeles Times review of the production

A better indicator of Anything Goes’ impact, however, is the fact that it is the most frequently revived musical comedy of the 1930s, which enjoyed major revivals in New York and London in the 1960s and 1980s, as well as multiple screen adaptations. Featuring a script “tightened” from the revisions made by John Weidman and Timothy Crouse in 1987, as well as “added Porter material, new orchestrations for the new dance arrangements, and a new finale,” the most recent Broadway revival in 2011, like each revival before it, made significant modifications to the original.