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TV version of 'Anything Goes,' with Frank Sinatra and Ethel Merman, makes DVD debut

March 24, 2011 | 11:58 am

Anythinggoes No doubt timed to coincide with the April 7 opening of a new "Anything Goes" revival on Broadway, a DVD version of the classic musical starring Frank Sinatra and Ethel Merman will hit shelves next week, providing fans with a double dose of Cole Porter's madcap farce.

The new DVD release -- from the Archive of American Television -- features a 1954 televised staging of the musical starring Sinatra, Merman, Bert Lahr and Sheree North. (The musical aired on "The Colgate Comedy Hour" on NBC.) The DVD, which runs only 53 minutes, features a pared-down version of the musical that uses only a selection of the original score, with plot changes.

Merman was in her 50s at the time that the TV version of "Anything Goes" was made. Theatrical lore has it that she and Sinatra did not get along well during production (coincidentally, she was one of the first artists he signed to his Reprise Records label). Merman has a long history with the musical: She starred in the 1934 Broadway version and in the movie adaptation the same year, opposite Bing Crosby.

"Anything Goes" tells the story of Billy Crocker (Sinatra), an American travelling aboard an ocean liner, who is trying to woo an English heiress. He's helped in his pursuit by Reno Sweeney (Merman), a lounge singer and former evangelist.

The DVD transfer is digitally remastered from Merman's personal kinescope print, according to the makers. The DVD also includes bonus features and a booklet essay.

The new Broadway revival, opening April 7 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, will star Sutton Foster, Colin Donnell and Joel Grey.

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-- David Ng

Photo credit: The Archive of American Television and Entertainment One U.S.

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