Theater Review: Anything Goes
It’s Summer Time!!!’ Yes- A few weeks before Memorial Day I agree, but Summer nonetheless. For you see- Summer to me, and to many theater goers, officially arrives with the very first musical of the season – at the “grand dame” of musical theater- The Goodspeed Opera House. My personal thoughts is that the Goodspeed, only exists for three reasons- 1. To provide us lucky New Englanders the finest summer musical theater this side of Broadway, 2. Provide a starting ground for numerous young actors everywhere. I am always so proud when I take note of a Hartt School graduate participating in a Goodspeed musical, and lastly, a scenic stop all in itself, be it to enjoy a summer picnic, lazily watch both birds and boats bobble by the tranquil Connecticut River or maybe, just maybe, chuck the rules of when Summer begins- and with ticket in hand sojourn up the hill to this glorious citadel – know as The Goodspeed!!
Now in regards to my most recent sojourn to the G.O.H. and its current production.- “Anything Goes”. As many of you have taken note of in my previous musical review- I frankly stated that the composer was no Cole Porter! Ouch ! Sorry but true- but who is nowadays? I enjoyed the story and the actors but I truly would like to come away from an evening with at least one tune stuck in my head. As they say be careful what you wish for, for wishes do come true!!!
I am so happy to state the current production of ANYTHING GOES as presented by GOH is Cole-tastic!!’ Yep- it’s a four letter word that I urge you to use all the time – COLE – to each and everyone of YOU! And by the way it’s about romance on a cruise ship- what a way to start summer!!!
There is no doubt in my mind, that after the performance of “Anything Goes”, you will surely be humming, whistling, nay – actually singing as you make your home from the Goodspeed with such COLE Classics as “You’re the Top”, “Anything Goes” and “I Get a Kick Out of a YOU”. But first things first – the story- a madcap romantic romp at sea on the cruise ship SS American making its way from New York City to London with missionaries, gangsters, a lovelorn stowaway and English Aristocrats- what else do ya need- oh yea- romantic leads. In this case it’s Evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Rashidra Scott) and Wall Street Broker Billy Crocker (portrayed by David Harris) who has fallen in love at first sight with a beautiful girl he met, heiress Hope Harcourt (Hannah Florence) who is traveling with her mother to England along with her fiancé, the natty upper crust Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Benjamin Howes). The fun is watching Reno, aided by Public Enemy #13 Moonface Martin (Stephen DeRosa), his gunmoll Erma (Desiree Davar), in various quixotic shenanigans, as they abet Billy and Hope to a happy romantic conclusion.
At this very moment- I take the liberty in stating that there are two delightful highlights, beyond the Cole Porter songs already mentioned and superb cast highlighted by Ms. Scott and Mr. Harris that are not to be missed. Highlight 1- I promise you that you will be transfixed by the absolutely stunning production number of the signature song “Anything Goes” – the opera house is ashakin’ as Reno and the entire assembly of singer and dancers “tap” the Goodspeed to its foundations- thank you Ensemble members: Bohn, Chounchaisit, Jantzie, Jones, Ramsey, Shin, Surratt, Tanabe, Tolbert, Tolve, Trentalange, and Wolfe- an amazing job of “hoofing” and kudos to choreographer Kelli Barclay!! And the second? Stephen DeRosa- this man is a comedic virtuoso – I truly don’t know if I hate him or love him for making me “laugh out so loud” when ever he is on stage as the riotous wide-eyed persona of Moonface Martin. DeRosa owns this role and you are putty in his hands whenever he is on stage-and he knows it! Hey New York producers give DeRosa his own one man show!!
“Anything Goes”, as directed by Daniel Goldstein is true summer theater gold!! This I believe and extoll- “Anything Goes” is a rigorously wonderful production by “the one and only” Cole Porter with his music and lyrics, staged with an infectiously wonderful group of singers and dancer plus a superb cast all make this outing to the Goodspeed most memorable- and yes- I am humming “You’re The Top” as I make my exit. Enjoy!
“Anything Goes” will run till June 16th. Curtain times are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available through the Goodspeed Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week, or on-line at http://www.goodspeed.org.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC