In This Episode


COMPOSER: Cole Porter

LYRICIST: Cole Porter

BOOK: Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, revisions by Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse

DIRECTOR: Howard Lindsay


PRINCIPLE CAST: William Gaxton (Billy), Ethel Merman (Reno), Victor Moore (Moonface)

OPENING DATE: Nov 21, 1934

CLOSING DATE: Nov 16, 1935


SYNOPSIS: Set on a luxury liner that is sailing from New York to London, Billy, a lovelorn stock broker, attempts to win back his true love, Hope, while being guided in matters of the heart by brassy entertainer Reno Sweeney. 

Robert W. Schneider argues that the oft-revived, oft-edited book musical, Anything Goes, houses a depth of social and political satire that was so topical and current upon its premiere that it is regularly overlooked by artists and audiences approaching the work. An in-depth analyses of Cole Porter’s lyrics for select list songs in the show reveal commentary on American pop culture which align with the themes in the piece and suggest characters’ milieu but, when studied more closely, hint at more subversive implications and taboo practices. The breakdowns demonstrate how a close reading of Anything Goes’ score may provide readers with a sense of Porter’s views on American life as well as his prowess as a lyricist.

Robert W. Schneider holds academic appointments at Penn State University, New York Film Academy, and Mount Union University, as well as serving as the Artistic Director for The J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company and as an original programming producer at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York City. He is the host of the podcasts Behind The Curtain: Broadway’s Living Legends, Gay Card Revoked, and This Was A Thing. For the past fifteen years Robert has been one of the most prolific leaders of online education in the arts. He is a proud member of SDC, AEA, and AGVA.


Anything Goes, London Symphony Recording. Angel Records (1989)

Anything Goes, starring Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman, directed by Lewis Milestone. Paramount Pictures (1936)

The Colgate Comedy Hour: Anything Goes, starring Frank Sinatra and Ethel Merman, directed by Sid Smith. NBC Studios (1954)

Just About Anything Goes: The National Theatre at Work by Robert Butler, published by NT Publications (2002)

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