Todd Haimes Chats About Anything Goes Revival

PlayBlog   Todd Haimes Chats About Anything Goes Revival
Roundabout Theatre Company provided the following conversation with artistic director Todd Haimes when they announced the upcoming Broadway revival of Anything Goes starring Sutton Foster.

Does a big Broadway musical like Anything Goes impact the way you program the rest of your season?

Programming a season is always a bit of a balancing act. The goal is to be true to Roundabout’s mission while providing our audience with an exciting range of work over the course of each year. I’d say that we generally do one big musical revival each year, and that always fits nicely in balance with the classic play revivals and new play work that we’re doing. To me, it’s exciting to be producing this great piece of musical theatre at the same time that we’ll be running plays by Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams. That’s exactly the kind of range that I think the audience is looking for. Anything Goes, with its great Cole Porter score, is a perfect representative of traditional musicals from the “Golden Age.” It really goes to the heart and soul of why we started producing musical revivals back in 1993. As a truly American art form, it’s so important that we bring these musicals back to the stage, and since Anything Goes hasn’t been seen on Broadway in more than two decades, it’s time to share this show with a new generation.

Will this production of Anything Goes be downsized from what an audience would expect?

As we’ve shown with productions like Cabaret, Assassins, and Nine, Roundabout is committed to producing high quality musical revivals, and we will continue to do these shows on whatever scale is right for the particular production. Anything Goes, like many musicals of its period, is not exactly what you’d call a chamber musical. It’s a big ensemble piece, and that’s exactly what makes this show such a joy. I don’t think you can do Anything Goes properly without embracing its size.

Considering Roundabout’s relationship with Kathleen Marshall, what came first: the director or the musical? How does it usually work?

Obviously, Roundabout had a great experience with Kathleen Marshall on The Pajama Game, and she has since become one of our Associate Artists, so we’ve both been looking for the right opportunity to have her back at Roundabout again. In this particular case, Anything Goes was a show that I’ve always wanted to do, and when I brought the idea to Kathleen, it was immediately clear that we had a great match here. It’s not always the case that I can so confidently bring a project like this to a director, and in fact I often find that we get great work from directors coming to me with their passion projects. But this was a situation where we have such history with the artist, going all the way back to when Kathleen was the Assistant Choreographer on Roundabout’s first musical, She Loves Me, back in 1993, that I just knew her work so well and truly had no doubt that this would be a perfect fit. Kathleen is pretty singular as both a director and choreographer in her ability to revitalize classic American musicals. She loves and appreciates the form, but she also has the ability to make it her own and give it a fresh perspective for today’s audiences. I think Anything Goes will be a wonderful showcase for Kathleen’s amazing talent and a true treat for our audience.

Sutton Foster is well known as one of Broadway’s leading ladies. Why is she right to play “Reno Sweeney”?

You simply don’t do Anything Goes without knowing that you have a fantastic Reno Sweeney, and I have no hesitation in saying we have one with Sutton Foster. Sutton is an amazing talent, and I’m thrilled to have her joining the Roundabout family. She’s one of Broadway’s most versatile and funny women -- a true triple-threat who will be able to act, sing, and dance this role as no one else could. Sutton has originated so many Broadway roles already in her career, from Millie Dillmount to Princess Fiona, but to me there’s something particularly exciting about seeing a true Broadway baby like Sutton take on a role like Reno Sweeney that comes with such an amazing history. I can’t wait to see Sutton put her own unique mark on the role.

How does Anything Goes fit into Roundabout’s history of presenting classic musicals?

Whether it’s 1776, 110 in the Shade, or Assassins, our goal in musical revivals is to give the great artists of today the chance to put a new perspective on the great work of years past. It may be something more traditional like She Loves Me or an essential Sondheim like Sunday in the Park with George, but no matter what, we want our audience to experience the best of the musical theatre canon. The original production of Anything Goes opened in 1934 and has continued to be a favorite over so many decades because it has something that no classic musical can do without: a great score. Musicals have certainly changed over the years, and they can now take many different forms, but what keeps audiences coming back to Anything Goes is that wonderful music, a great cast of characters, and a big beating heart. These are the elements that make it so timeless, and having been away from Broadway since 1989, it is very much ready to be revived by the best artists working in musical theatre today. Knowing what brilliant work Kathleen Marshall accomplished on The Pajama Game, I can’t wait to see her vision for Anything Goes on stage.

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