The musical Anything Goes was first envisioned by producer Vinton Freedley while hiding out aboard a fishing boat in the Gulf of Panama after fleeing the country to escape creditors. His idea was based on the idea of an ocean liner facing the threat of a possible shipwreck. He returned to New York and, after paying off his debts, began bringing together his dream team: Cole Porter, Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Ethel Merman. Soon Freedley had a script that he felt sure would overturn his wilting fortunes. The S.S. Morro Castle went down off the coast of New Jersey right when the rehearsals were just about to begin. Over 125 passengers lost their lives in the highly publicized disaster. Anything Goes, Freedley decided, would have to be rewritten since shipwrecks consequently had suddenly become a highly sensitive area for the exploitation of song and humor. The rewrite held on to most of the same characters, but did away with the idea of the shipwreck. The plot revolved around nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Merman), her pall Billy Crocker, Crocker's debutante-love Hope Harcourt, Moon-Face Mooney, and Public Enemy No. 13 who slips onto the ship to avoid the FBI. Anything Goes opened at the Alvin Theatre on November 21, 1934 and turned out to be the fourth longest running musical of the 30s. In 1987, it was revived at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre with Patti LuPone in the leading role and a modified book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman.
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