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Sutton Foster Sets Sail for Broadway Revival of ‘Anything Goes’

If the stars align on Broadway next season, Sutton Foster will be the top: the Coliseum, the Louvre Museum, a melody from a symphony by Strauss.

New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company is in talks to present “Anything Goes,” the Cole Porter classic that was a hit for Lincoln Center Theater in the late 1980s. Kathleen Marshall would direct and Foster, 35, would play the Patti LuPone role, according to two people briefed on the talks.

“Anything Goes,” which premiered in 1934, is set on a cruise ship headed to England, with boy-meets-girl subplots. Foster would play Reno Sweeney, an evangelist-turned-nightclub singer originally played by Ethel Merman.

A native of Georgia, Foster was plucked from the chorus during a San Diego tryout of 2002’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and went on to win a Tony Award for the title role. She followed with four Broadway leads and recently played a sexy nurse with a French alter ego in “Anyone Can Whistle.”

“She can do anything,” said Jack Viertel, the artistic director of “Encores!,” which presented “Whistle.” He said he wasn’t familiar with Roundabout’s plans.

With a $46 million budget last season, the Roundabout operates three Broadway theaters and one off-Broadway. Its new Broadway venture, “Sondheim on Sondheim,” received positive reviews, but its two most recent musical revivals -- “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Pal Joey” -- lasted only three months each.

Dow Crash

Lincoln Center’s revival of “Anything Goes” opened on Oct. 19, 1987, hours after the Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed 508 points, or 22.6 percent. The blow to consumer confidence apparently was offset by the material’s timeliness. According to the New York Times, a 1929 joke that bombed in previews landed nicely on opening night.

(The joke: An industrialist meets the widow of a colleague who jumped out a window. “I was coming out of the stock exchange when he took off that ledge,” he said consolingly. “He jumped like a Yale man.”)

Porter’s sophisticated standards include “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Friendship” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

Foster is no stranger to period parts. “Millie” was set in 1922 and “The Drowsy Chaperone,” in which she also starred, was set in 1928.

-- Editors: Manuela Hoelterhoff, Rick Warner.

To contact the writer on this story: Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

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