Critic’s Choice: Madcap ‘Anything Goes’ turns world topsy-turvy in Lincolnshire
Anything can happen – and frequently does – in “Anything Goes,” the 1934 redoubtable musical comedy with music and lyrics by Cole Porter that Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire is staging under the exemplary direction and choreography of Marc Robin.
Rubin, and a cast studded with seasoned actors, singers and dancers, are in high gear for this revival, supported by Ryan T. Nelson’s music direction; Thomas M. Ryan’s highly mobile set; Jesse Klug’s effective lighting; Robert E. Gilmartin’s memorable sound design; and Nancy Missimi’s exceptional costumes.
The show is drawn from an original book by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, with subsequent revisions by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The wacky, fast-paced comedy (sometimes too nonsensical for words) turns reality on its side.
Set aboard an ocean liner, “Anything Goes” is filled with witty humor involving bad puns and mistaken identities, clever songs and fleet-footed dance numbers. A nutty captain (John Reeger) seeks to curry favor from bored passengers by throwing a party for someone he believes is Public Enemy No. 1.
Reno Sweeney (played by Stephanie Binetti) is a lively former evangelist-turned-nightclub singer who leads the company in the title song, a big song-and-tap number and “I Get a Kick Out of You.” In Act II, she’s on fire in the ship’s lounge encouraging passengers to confess their sins; the songstress delivers a hot rendition of “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” An athletic supporting cast wows with its athletic running leaps and somersaults.
The main story follows Billy Crocker (Jameson Cooper), a love-addled broker who can’t get his mind off debutante Hope Harcourt (Summer Naomi Smart). Harcourt, however, is on a course to wed Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Patrick Lane), a wealthy and stuffy Brit who is the butt of jokes as he tries in vain to keep track of American idioms.
Cooper’s strong voice is heard in “Easy to Love” and, with Smart, “It’s De-Lovely.” Smart also demonstrates her vocal prowess in “Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye” and “All Through the Night.”
Another thread to the plot involves the antics of Moonface Martin (Ross Lehman), a stowaway crook, dressed in vestments of a priest, who teams up to help Billy press his suit. Lehman’s comedic skills are turned in high gear throughout the production and he even gets a chance to show off his talent as a singer in the solo, “Be Like the Bluebird.”
Some other noteworthy characters include Gene Weygandt as an overbearing banker and Billy’s boss, Elisha Whitney; Mary Ernster as Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt, Hope’s overbearing mother; and Alexandra E. Palkovic as the flirty Erma, Moonface’s friend.