5th Avenue Theatre Parade Hairspray Anything Goes 1776

writing: articles, sales copy, and editing


client: The 5th Avenue Theatre
project: Anything Goes Articles

Once again, the kind of show synopsis I wanted did not exist, so I wrote a new one which wove the song titles into the narrative.

The challenge was to include the show's myriad plot-twists into a piece as short as possible.


Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay, Russel Crouse
Directed by David Armstrong

A Detailed Synopsis


On the luxury ocean liner S.S. American, paparazzi snap pictures of boarding celebrities: Elisha J. Whitney, Wall Street tycoon; Hope Harcourt and her rich English fiance Sir Evelyn Oakleigh; a bishop with two Chinese converts; and the notorious evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney. Billy Crocker comes aboard to say "bon voyage" to his friend Reno and his hot-headed boss Whitney, who fires him. Reno invites Billy to travel with her (You're The Top), but Whitney re-hires him to finish some business in the city. Billy then bumps into Hope, his long-lost love! She shocks him with news of her engagement; Billy decides to stay aboard in hopes of winning her back. The crew is on the lookout for a pair of criminals disguised as clergymen. Just as "Reverend" Moonface Martin and Miss Bonnie Latour sidle aboard, looking for their colleague — Snake Eyes Johnson, Public Enemy Number One — Billy innocently directs the crew to the real bishop, who is hustled off the ship (Bon Voyage). Billy now has no ticket, no cabin, no money — and he must hide from Whitney, for whom he's supposed to be sealing a million-dollar deal in New York. Luckily, Snake Eyes hasn't shown up, and Moonface offers Snake's ticket to Billy. Billy finds Hope and Evelyn on deck (Let's Not Talk About Love). After the seasick Evelyn leaves, Billy romances Hope (It's DeLovely).

The next morning, Billy breezes into Moon's cabin: he and Hope have talked all night and he's more in love than ever. He rushes off to steal some clothes. Before Billy returns, the ship's Purser stops by to warn Moon that his cabin-mate is actually Public Enemy Number One. When Billy returns, Moon reveals that he, himself, is Public Enemy Number Thirteen, and that Billy could be mistaken for Number One. Billy needs a disguise; in addition to his boss, he must now hide from the ship's crew, who thinks he's a criminal, and from Hope's mother, Mrs. Harcourt, who wants Hope to marry Evelyn. On deck, the sailors mistake Bonnie for part of Reno's backup group, the Angels (Heaven Hop). A disguised Billy courts Hope, and he enlists Reno to distract Evelyn. Billy, Reno and Moon celebrate their Friendship. Reno meets Evelyn in his cabin for drinks. Moon bursts in, hoping to find them in a compromising position, but the plan fails: Evelyn seems delighted to be perceived as a playboy. Later, Reno finds she has an Englishman on her mind (I Get a Kick Out Of You). In a series of disguises, Billy doggedly pursues Hope. Eventually, one of his disguises fails and he is "revealed" as Snake Eyes Johnson. Moon is arrested as an accomplice. Strangely enough, instead of landing in the brig, Billy is lionized as a celebrity. Everyone adores him — everyone, that is, but Hope (Anything Goes).


As Public Enemy Number One, Billy is treated like royalty (Let's Step Out). He promises Moon will deliver a sermon if he is released. On deck, Reno and Evelyn take a romantic stroll (Let's Misbehave), but — former evangelist that she is — Reno must lead the revival meeting. Confessions abound: Evelyn admits to a past love affair with Little Plum Blossom, Billy reveals he is not, in fact, Snake Eyes and Moon confesses his own Public Enemy status. Billy and Moon are marched to the brig while Reno finishes the sermon (Blow, Gabriel, Blow). In the brig, Billy pines for Hope All Through the Night. Moon advises him to Be Like the Bluebird. Hope visits long enough to tell Billy that, although she loves him, she must marry Evelyn on deck that very day. Meanwhile, the Bishop's Chinese converts are thrown into the brig for gambling. Moonface suggests a game of strip poker. Reno and the Angels are homesick (Take Me Back to Manhattan). Evelyn tells Reno of the wedding; he must honor his obligations. The wedding begins, interrupted by three Chinese visitors (Billy, Moon and Reno, in disguise). They stage a big scene, pretending to be Little Plum Blossom, deflowered by Evelyn years ago, and her relatives. Hope, recognizing Billy, urges Evelyn to settle his debt of honor by offering Plum Blossom's relatives his bride: her. Evelyn, recognizing Reno, further atones by proposing to Plum Blossom. An FBI cable arrives, declaring Moonface "harmless." He is indignant, but Bonnie comforts him (You're The Top, reprise), and everyone celebrates a happy, happy ending.