“Delightful Dancing and Catchy Tunes” a review by: Jenny Hansell of the Lakeville Journal
The review was originally published on Wednesday June 28 in the TriCorner News.
There’s a reason that high schools and regional theaters everywhere love to put on “Anything Goes,” the Depression-era musical with songs by Cole Porter. It features a large cast of exaggerated characters, incredibly catchy tunes and a relentless barrage of silly jokes, and the songs are mostly deceptively simple to sing.
But under that fizzy surface are currents of feeling and perfect lyrics that have made songs like “It’s De-Lovely” American songbook standards for more than 80 years (that song and several others weren’t in the original production, but were added later.).
This summer’s bright and buoyant production at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, N.Y., has all the bawdy humor, glittering voices and killer tap-dancing you could want. You will leave the theater immensely cheered.
The action takes place on a cruise ship, where both well-heeled and wannabes come to chase celebrities and land rich wives or husbands (everything old is new again, after all). On board are Reno Sweeney, a nightclub singer and former evangelist, and her friend Billy, a junior Wall Street broker who sneaks on board to woo the girl of his dreams, Hope Harcourt.
Hope is engaged to an English lord but loves Billy. Reno loves Billy too, but he only has eyes for Hope. Billy’s boss, Eli Whitney, is there as well, stumbling around making hoary references to Yale (Porter’s alma mater). And gangster Moonface Martin is there with his moll.
Don’t worry if you can’t keep it all straight. The songs are what matter, and the talented cast delivers them with brio.
As Reno, Angela Travino has real Broadway glow. She sings “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top” (which rhymes “Mahatma Gandhi” with “Napoleon Brandy”) and the show-stopping “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” with a gleaming powerhouse of a voice.
As Hope, Megan Hasse is the perfect dim ingenue, with a glittery soprano and bouncy blonde curls.
Darrel Blackburn is a blustery milquetoast as Moonface. He is Public Enemy #13, hoping desperately to move up the list.
Dakota Dutcher is the malaprop-spewing Lord Evelyn Oakleigh — a goofball with a Flock of Seagulls haircut, he has a hilarious turn near the end singing “The Gypsy In Me” as he discovers his true romantic X.
As Billy, Sam Pickart is a convincing baby stockbroker, but a bit bland — it’s hard to see why the gorgeous Reno is so stuck on him.
Katie Skawski does a great New Yawk accent as Erma, Moonface’s companion.
The other star of this show is the ensemble, a troupe of college students and recent grads. Just when I thought the show would disappoint in the dancing department, the men in their sailor suits and women in short glittery dresses started tapping up a storm in the title number, choreographed perfectly for the theater-in-the round by director Robin Levine.
She is less successful with the staging in the nonmusical numbers — the characters are constantly moving and spinning to make sure they never have their back to any quadrant of the theater for too long. Characters enter, deliver a quick one-liner or cheesy pun and then leave. The overall effect is sometimes a little chaotic.
But no matter. The show is a delight.