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Theatre / Anything Goes

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Reno Sweeney: They think he's Gangster # 1,
So they made him the favorite son!
And that goes to show
Anything Goes!

A musical first performed in 1934 with songs by Cole Porter and a book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. Anything Goes takes place aboard a transatlantic cruise and follows the antics of a number of unusual passengers, including evangelist-turned-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (originally played by Ethel Merman), hapless would-be gangster "Moonface" Martin, disguised as a pastor (originally played by Victor Moore), and Billy, a self-described "broken down stockbroker" who stowed away in the hopes of thwarting his girlfriend Hope's Arranged Marriage to Upper-Class Twit Evelyn Oakley. Famous songs from the show include the title song, as well as "You're the Top" and "I Get a Kick Out of You". "Friendship" is also well known, but it's not originally from this show.

It received major revivals on Broadway twice, first in the 1960s in a version that interpolated songs from a number of Porter's other shows, and again in the 1980s in a version that stayed closer to the original musical in terms of songs, although not necessarily in terms of script. A third Broadway revival came out in 2011, based on the 1980s revival. It won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.


Not to be confused with the opening theme for Kamen Rider OOO. Or the style of martial arts practiced by Ranma ½.

"Now Heaven knows, anything tropes!":

  • Adorkable: Evelyn, primarily when he's trying to use American idioms, like telling Moonface, "I have hot pants for you!" He asks if he needs a glass of water.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted hard with both Reno and Hope. Both their respective love interests are the exact opposite of this, and Reno briefly addresses the ridiculousness of this trope in the show-stopping title song.
    Reno: The world has gone mad today, and good's bad today,
    when most guys today, that women prize today,
    are just silly gigolos!
  • Arranged Marriage: Between Hope and Evelyn.
  • As You Know
  • Bad “Bad Acting”: Many productions have Moonface pretend to confront Evelyn for blackmail purposes... in a flat, monotone voice.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bad Habits: Moonface Martin's priestly disguise (although notably, he is NOT disguised as a Roman Catholic priest).
  • Beta Couple: Evelyn and Reno
  • Billing Displacement In the 2011 revival. The show is marketed as "Anything Goes with Sutton Foster and Joel Grey". While Foster, as Reno, is the leading lady, Joel Gray plays Moonface, when the main man is Billy Crocker (played by Colin Donnell).
  • Blackmail: Reno and Moonface try to do this to Evelyn to get him to break it off with Hope.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Mr. Whitney, a fact exploited by Moonface.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Evelyn's attempts at learning American idioms.
  • Bowdlerize: The "Some get a kick from cocaine" section from the chorus is frequently either replaced with bowdlerized lyrics or chopped out of the song entirely, especially in high school productions (the "official" bowdlerization — changed for the movie due to The Hays Code, and recorded by Frank Sinatra — is "Some like the perfume in Spain", which fits the rest of the lyric about sniffing it). Cole Porter being Cole Porter, easily offended directors can easily find many more lines to alter or excise from the lyrics, not to mention the book.
  • Brick Joke: In many productions, a bishop gets arrested in place of Moonface at the beginning. It's implied this may be the reason Moonface is taken off the wanted list at the end.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: As is standard Romantic Comedy fare.
  • Crowd Song: "Anything Goes" and "Public Enemy Number One"
  • Driven to Suicide: Mr. Harcourt during the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929. "He jumped like a Yale man."
  • The Family for the Whole Family: Moonface is a luckless and perfectly harmless gangster who decides to help Billy out with his romantic troubles
  • Funny Foreigner: Luke, John, and Evelyn Oakley.
  • Finish Dialoguein Unison: "What was [Mrs. Harcourt's dog] doing in the swimming pool?" The entire cast, (in some cases, including the band) responds: THE DOG PADDLE!!!
  • George Jetson Job Security: Elijah Whitney, according to Billy, hires and fires him every eight minutes.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The entire song "Anything Goes".
  • Girl Friday: Subverted by Bonnie/Erma who does nothing but cause trouble for Moonface.
  • Gold Digger: Hope's mom becomes one when she marries Eli to get out of poverty.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis: Reno is sent to lure Evelyn away so Billy can woo Hope. It...doesn't work.
  • Gospel Revival Number: "Blow Gabriel Blow"
  • The Great Depression
  • Harmless Villain: Moonface
  • Have a Gay Old Time "Blow Gabriel Blow", especially the line "Will you be ready to go when I blow my horn."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Billy and Moonface.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Reno makes fun of career women, despite being one herself.
  • The Ingenue: Hope
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Actually created by Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends. Hope's mother gets all the wealth she wanted without having to even apologize to Hope for trying to force her into marriage. But at least Whitney's happy.
    • Moonface despite being a gangster and a criminal (albeit of the Harmless Villain variety) gets away completely scot-free of his crimes (although he's only Public Enemy number thirteen). Which is cleaned up even nicer at the end when he gets a telegram saying they've dropped him off the list entirely.
  • Let's Duet: "It's De-Lovely." Some versions also have "Let's Misbehave."
  • Lovable Rogue: Moonface.
  • Malaproper/My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Evelyn, who is trying to learn and understand American slang, without much success.
  • Merchandise-Driven by the songs.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Reno is a parody of Aimee Semple McPherson
  • No Reprise, Please: Moonface sings "Be Like the Bluebird" to cheer Billy up after they're thrown in the brig. When Chinese converts Luke and John are thrown into the same brig, Moonface begins to sing it again, but Billy stops the reprise.
    Moonface: You know your problem, kid? You ain't got no philosophy! There's an old Australian-
    Billy: Would you forget about that?!
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The "Amalgamation Deal" Mr. Whitney was working on is never explained in detail.
    • When Billy and Hope are reminiscing about the night they met, Hope mentions they spent 4 hours driving around town in the back of a taxi. Billy replies, "Five. You fell asleep after-" to which Hope cuts him off, "I remember." What happened in the taxi, stayed in the taxi.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Reno for Billy, Moonface for Reno. Subverted with Moonface and Erma as they're stuck together but can't stand one another
  • Official Couple: Billy and Hope.
  • Oh, Crap!: John when he realizes that Moon is trying to steal his and Luke's clothes in gambling.
  • Pair the Spares: After Hope and Billy are together, Evelyn and Reno fall in love. One of the things the 1962 revival does better than the others is putting the song "I Get A Kick Out Of You" directly after the scene where Reno attempts to seduce Evelyn. This makes the song about Evelyn as opposed to Billy and shows that Reno is legitimately in love with him.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Billy and Moonface run through several of these in the course of the show. A beard cut directly from the fur of Mrs. Harcourt's dog turns Billy into a convincing George Bernard Shaw.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "You're the Top" is Reno encouraging Billy to go after Hope (despite the fact that she'd rather have him herself).
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Reno and Billy, also Reno and Moonface. "Friendship" is pretty much a song about this trope
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Moonface's character was originally named Moonface Mooney, until a Real Life gangster named Moonface Mooney objected.
  • Really Gets Around: Erma
  • Rule of Funny: The entire show runs on this
  • Russian Reversal: This line from the title song "Anything Goes" provides what may be the Ur-Example for the transpositional pun:
    "Instead of landing on Plymouth Rock
    Plymouth Rock would land on them!"
  • Senseless Violins: Moonface smuggles a Tommy Gun onboard, not that it does him any good. (Though he does win money skeet shooting with it.)
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Billy does this to Reno in a non-romantic sense. He is on the boat under an assumed name when Reno recognises him and calls his name... right as the purser is standing nearby. Billy kisses her to stop her rambling on and giving the game away. Reno doesn't seem to mind, though.
  • Sidekick Song: "Be Like The Bluebird" for Moonface
  • Snipe Hunt: Billy, in disguise as a sailor, sends Mrs. Harcourt to find the "Gullery" when she asks him where the seagulls go to sleep at night.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Moonface is unhappy about his position as Public Enemy #13 for this reason.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Hot Pants."
  • Upper-Class Twit: Evelyn in most productions, at least until Reno gets her hands on him.
  • Weddings for Everyone: Three of them: Billy and Hope, Reno and Evelyn, and Ms. Harcourt and Whitney. Some productions can add Moon and Bonnie/Erma to this.
  • Zany Scheme: Billy's attempt to keep himself on the boat by posing as Public Enemy Number One "Snake Eyes Johnson".


Example of: