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Marriott's 'Anything Goes' is ship shape

Screwball musical comedies from the 1930s may seem like lightweight fluff, but there's a tremendous amount of hard work involved to keep everything afloat. So despite some minor quibbles for the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire's revival of "Anything Goes," the overall effect is one of smooth sailing amid a sea of laughter.

"Anything Goes" buoys along thanks to a glorious 1930s Cole Porter score that is wedded to a supremely silly script full of sight gags, witty word play and double-entendres. Marriott deploys playwrights Timothy Crouse and John Weidman's 1987 script, which spruced up the 1934 original, though there has been some early shifting to keep all the action aboard the show's luxury ocean liner setting.

Commanding this sturdy comic ship is director/choreographer Marc Robin, who proudly displays his showbiz sea legs number after number. You want knockout tap and jazz numbers? Robin heartily delivers with the tap-happy title song at the end of Act I and the acrobatic "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" which kicks off Act II.

Prefer romance? Robin provides a lovely danced duet straight out of a classic Hollywood musical in the song "De-lovely" for the leading romantic couple of stowaway stockbroker Billy Crocker (a sturdy-jawed Jameson Cooper) and former debutante Hope Harcourt (a charming Summer Naomi Smart).

Robin also allows plenty of room for his cast to show off their comic skills. Gene Weygandt's vocal tics are priceless as the perpetually tipsy businessman Elisha Whitney, while Patrick Lane is a laugh riot as the malapropism-prone Brit Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

Also invaluable is Ross Lehman as the bumbling gangster Moonface Martin, whose disguises and awkward situations easily elicit laughs from the audience. Yet there's a certain missing spontaneity to Lehman's performance, which signposts the fact that you're watching a comic pro do his thing.

...Marriott's "Anything Goes" proves to be comically ship shape. As one of the songs goes, it's all very "Easy to Love."