Because the 1934 sinking of the Morro Castle made the original sea-disaster plot of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" too cold for comfort, the score was freighted with a substitute book. To fill its holes, Harlequin Dinner Theater's current revival adds four songs from the Porter musicals. Though this suggests sloshing whipped cream on the enchilada, nobody much cares since Porter songs always are welcome.
To the title song, "You're the Top," "I Get a Kick out of You," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," and "All through the Night " Harlequin adds "It's Delovely," from "Red, Hot and Blue" of '35; "Friendship," from "DuBarry Was a Lady" of '39; "Let's Misbehave," introduced but withdrawn from "Paris" of '25, and "Take Me Back to Manhattan," which Frances Williams sang in her throaty snarl in "The New Yorkers," the Peter Arno collaboration of 1930.
My quarrel with Harlequin's "Anything Goes" is that the usually resourceful Dallett Norris has staged the numbers so alike. The chorus thumps out these nine and more full steam ahead, arms extended, feet shuffling and banging. The choreography for each is virtually interchangeable, Wingding razzle-dazzle can pall.
Fortunately, two Harlequin favorites are in good form, Pamela Bierly, red-haired, with a boyish bob and increasingly slim, has developed an attractively relaxed presence and her voice has exceptional range and pitch. Her singing diction, however, has a long way to go. If Ethel Merman hadn't made all her lyrics familiar, you'd have trouble catching them.
Moon-faced Victor Moore created the character of Rev. Moon, "Public Enemy No. 13" who longed to become "Public Enemy No. 1," Buddy Piccolino plays him very amusingly. By working regularly at Harlequin, Piccolino has been developing the fine art of comedy timing, which is never inbred and only car be mastered by experience.
A welcome home to Michele Mundell, who gets to sing "It's Delovely" (more in the Merman range than her own), but she remains an ingratiating performer, George Ratliff lacks the sparkel for the suave Billy Gaxton character.
Why does the program ignore the writers?" Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse rewrote the P.G. Wodehouse-Guy Bolton text sunk by the Morro Castle disaster. I also regretted the loss of some of the title song's lyrics, including "Now if Mrs. R. with all her trimmins can sell some beds for the brothers Simmons, then Franklin knows, anything goes." Despite published versions, that's how Merman originally sang it.