Anything Goes – Royal City Musical Theatre
Until April 23rd
Dazzling production, bursting with talent and fluffy, fun empty calories.
Anything Goes with music and lyrics by Cole Porter was written by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton in 1934 and then re-written by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. Then in 1987 it was re-written again with some different Cole Porter songs from other shows inserted.
The story is a rag tag bunch of scallywags who are on a cruise ship filled with travellers that want to be on a ship full of celebrities. Instead they get Billy Crocker, a stowaway in love with the destitute Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh at the insistence of her Mother. Billy’s boss Elisha Whitney is on board and in order for Billy not to be seen they steal Mr, Whitney’s eye glasses. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney has a crush on Billy but she is so sassy she won’t let it get here down. Also on board is Public Enemy #13 Moonface Martin and his moll Erma who wants to get busy with all the sailors.
One major and welcomed change that director and choreographer Valerie Easton made to the script is that she cut racially offensive Asian Missionaries travelling with a Reverend and instead made them Russians. The line where the Reverend says to them ‘and after you can launder my shirts’ is still there just to remind you how racist it would have been to not change them, so thank you Ms. Easton.
She has also assembled a brilliant cast including four Equity artists and there is not a weak link in the whole bunch. The singing, the dancing – tap included, the band under James Bryson stellar direction, with that remarkable brass section, the show is chock-a-block fun, fun, fun.
Omanir Elias’ set design of the SS American is spacious and crisp, neatly transferring into the exterior or interior of the boat with ease. Christina Sinosich once again creates a myriad of period costumes capturing 1930’s elegance.
Absolutely loved Madeleine Suddaby seemingly effortless portrayal of Reno Sweeney, belting out classic numbers like I Get A Kick, You’re The Top and the show stopping Blow Gabriel Blow. And when she dances it also sublime.
The dashing Daniel James White was all charm and swagger and seemed to be channeling Neil Patrick Harris as Billy Crocker.
Shannon Hanbury has a beautiful lovely voice that distracts from a rather unfortunate wig. She is winsome and sweet.
Mike Wild is delightful in his role as the stuffy English twit and his number The Gypsy In Me is a highlight.
I also really enjoyed Laura Ross as Erma the wise cracking gun moll. Her big number comes really late in the show just as it is starting to fatigue. She recaptures our attention.
The whole cast as I mention is effervescent it is their enthusiasm and it is their talent that carries the evening. The material is trite and silly and as such we are grateful that Ms. Easton keeps everything precise and fast. It has to clip along because the show is really just a hodgepodge of brilliant songs, the book even with the half dozen writers is so slight.
It’s joyous, astonishing and sweet like cotton candy. About as filling too, but sometimes empty calories is all you want and need.
David C Jones
One of the things I noticed watching this production is how much the brilliant musical parody A Drowsy Chaperone cribs from Anything Goes. I knew it was a throwback to old musicals but so much seem inspired from this show. We will be able to compare this summer when it is staged at TUTS.