Life on Broadway, part II

| December 1, 2011

We saw “Anything Goes” last night — what an absolute delight. Yes, the play was light in content, and some of the jokes and lines were groaners and, I suspect, came from the original 1934 version — but it was still a pleasure, and most everyone left the theatre smiling and whistling. A large reason was having Sutton Foster in the lead role as Reno Sweeney; the rest of a great cast largely spent its time trying to keep up with her. The music is all Cole Porter, so I was sold on that from the start, and the choreography was outstanding. The only weakness of the casting is that Sutton Foster is so damned good looking and appealing that it made you wonder why the male lead (Colin Donnell as Billy Crocker) was focused on (and eventually wins) another woman.

On the other hand, “Seminar” with Alan Rickman (and, as it turns out, Jerry O’Connell), which we saw tonight, was a bit of a disappointment. For being a play about writing and communicating, the script stepped on its own message by pervasive profanity and a few flashes of purely gratuitous nudity. The actors themselves all performed well; Jerry O’Connell was in particular a delight — this play is his Broadway debut — and Alan Rickman was, well, Alan Rickman — I could probably sit and listen to him read the phone book. The other actors did well also, in particular Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater; Hettienne Park is, I suspect, a good actress, but her character was the least significant and the least developed, so it’s hard to tell.

There were actually some interesting discussions and ideas about writing and writers, and some great characterizations, but the constant profanity itself became a level of white noise that made the play tiresome to listen to — 95% of it added nothing to the play or the characters and removed the dramatic or emotional impact that the other 5% might have had. As someone once put it, good writing is when you have removed everything that can be removed. The playwright, Theresa Rebeck, failed to do that, in spades. As Sandra put it, the play was less than the sum of its parts.

Still, three Broadway plays in a week made for a wonderful week.  ..bruce..

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Category: Broadway, Main, Plays

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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