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Book Review: 'Anything Goes' by John Barrowman

BooksKristina PinoComment

Getting acquainted with John Barrowman and his musical theater work has been the best thing to come out of spending some time watching the new Doctor Who series. Though I'm pretty lukewarm on Doctor Who, I loved Captain Jack as a character, and some of my more invested friends learned that he can sing and dance and has had a great musical career. And then I went to a book store to browse memoirs and saw one with his face on it titled Anything Goes. Why not?

Anything Goes is not so much a chronicle of John Barrowman's life so much as a collection of experiences, thoughts, and wisdom (both from John himself and people he's met). It's not sorted by phases of his life, but by song titles and what falls under them. It isn't even in chronological order. And it doesn't have an ending, because as John rightfully points out, his story hasn't ended yet. While it made for an abrupt cut-off, he made that point clear.

John's writing voice is candid and entertaining. Though some bits of the book can get into "gushing" territory, he never lost me for a second. And on a more positive note, the overall tone of the book is fun and light, which led to a few actual laugh-out-loud moments. Some of those moments happened on trains, and I got some weird looks from people, but I think they were just jealous.

I think what I liked most about reading about John's experiences straight from his own head is that he's one of those people who are so driven, and so convicted to what they want to do, and is lucky enough (and certainly has worked hard enough) to have gotten all the best things out of the life he wanted. It's refreshing to just read a happy story from a happy person who is currently leading a happy life. It's even more refreshing that he's not afraid to spread that happiness out to others. John holds nothing back (except a few names for privacy purposes), and even goes as far as including loads of footnotes with remarks and side comments. Reading Anything Goes felt much like I was sitting face to face with the man himself and being told the same stories.

When you're in the mood for some unabashed fun at the expense of someone else's experiences, give Anything Goes a read. You'll probably see some parallels in there with your own life, even if you don't lead a glamorous one up in lights. After that, you might rewatch the "Springtime for Hitler" number in The Producers to see him in action, because like me, you might not have known that he was the lead for that song until you he told you.