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She's the Top

Preview: Director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall on the Roundabout Theatre Company's Anything Goes, the tour of which opens at Winspear Opera House this week.



published Wednesday, February 13, 2013

There are a lot of reasons to recognize the name Kathleen Marshall. She's the sister of Oscar-winning director Rob Marshall, for one; but more importantly, she's an award-winning director and choreographer for a number of Broadway hits in the past decade.

This week, Anything Goes, the 2011 Roundabout Theatre Company's Tony Award-winner sails into the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Winspear Opera House as part of the Lexus Broadway Series, giving Dallasites a chance to see her direction and choreography at its finest.

"This tour is as big as the original production," she says. I caught her on the phone just minutes after she'd stocked up her New York City apartment for Storm Nemo. "It's got the same number of actors, same number of musicians, same three story set. It's rare you see a tour that's the same scale as the original."

Roundabout also produced the tour of Anything Goes, which is a show that has numerous incarnations. The 1934 original production with music and lyrics by Cole Porter had a book by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse (the latter was a British author and humorist who, among other things, created the character Jeeves). But this story of love and hijinks on an ocean liner has made several transitions since then.  Beginning with a film version in 1936, it's made three appearances on celluloid and has been revived five times on Broadway. This version won the Tony Award for Best Revival.

"We wanted to give people a show they know and love, but surprise them at the same time," Marshall says. Along with her production team, she chose to add in some of the original Porter lyrics that don't usually make it into productions. "You're the Top" and "Buddie, Beware" might be longer than you remember. Because as she says, "The more Cole Porter the better."

Sutton Foster took home the show's second Tony award for best actress as the main love interest, played by Rachel York on this tour. A recognizable Broadway face for roles including Younger Woman in Sondheim's Putting it Together and Mallory in City of Angels (two shows on Dallas stages in 2013), York played Guinevere in the national tour of Camelot, which stopped at the Dallas Summer Musicals in 2007.

"Sutton had more of a glamorous best pal, tom boyish way about her," Marshall says. "But Rachel has an old-school spunky, sexy quality. Like a Mae West, Roz Russell or a Barbara Stanwyck. She's fun to watch because she's quick and energetic."

York is not the only female powerhouse on stage in one of Marshall's shows right now. Nice Work if You Can Get It, another show directed and choreographed by Marshall, is currently enjoying a successful run on Broadway. Nice Work, which features songs by George and Ira Gershwin, is another musical with hit after hit and Marshall says it's just coincidence that she happens to work on two shows in a row based on material by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse (the new book is by Joe DiPietro).

"I love working on these shows with classic songs and upbeat choreography," she says. "But my next project is much different."

Marhsall teamed up with singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow and Barry Levinson to create a musical version of Diner, Levinson's 1982 film about a group of friends who reunite and reminisce. That show is set to open in April of this year. Thanks For Reading





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She's the Top
Preview: Director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall on the Roundabout Theatre Company's Anything Goes, the tour of which opens at Winspear Opera House this week.
by Lauren Smart

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