Funny madcap musical comedy delivers terrific entertainment
Anything Goes is Cole Porter’s terrific score that was a star vehicle for Ethel Merman. This toe-tapping nicely goofy show has all the elements of a wonderful musical. From the 1934 pre-book era, the story is about lovers, liars and wacky characters on a transatlantic cruise. As the S.S. American travels out to sea, etiquette and societal norms are gone as two unlikely pairs struggle to acquire their true loves. These couples get help from a crew of singing sailors and a gangster that uses mugging humor from a bunch of lovable characters each with deft comic timing. Did I mention that Anything Goes has one of the greatest score ever penned for the stage? And director/choreographer Marc Robin’s smart and inventive choreographer adds much enjoyment on Marriott Theatre’s in-the-round stage especially in the two main show-stoppers: the act ending “Anything Goes” tap number and the magnificent “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” Both numbers were stunning.
When you add memorable standards like “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Friendship,” “It’s De-lovely” and “All Through the Night,” Anything Goes unfolds as a throw-back fabulous old-style musical comedy! The period-perfect costumes (by Nancy Missimi) and the effective staging and swift choreography by Marc Robin gave the musical whimsical atmosphere around Porter’s memorable tunes.
The stellar cast is lead by a nice performance by Stephanie Binetti as the spunky Reno Sweeney. Binetti sings, dances and charms us into the wacky world of the adventures on the cruise to Europe. She is fabulous in this show. She gets help from an assortment of outstanding comic players. Jameson Cooper is the likable crooner and love-interest Billy Crocker. Ross Lehman, as Moonface Martin is hysterically funny despite mugging a tad too much as does Gene Weygandt as Elisha Whitney. But Patrick Lane, as the stuffy Brit Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, wonderfully nails his breakout song “The Gypsy in Me.”. The beautiful Summer Smart, as Hope Harcourt, is dazzling as she nails her tunes. Alexandra E. Palkovic, as Erma was a hoot!
This well-staged show is an eye-popping, toe-tapping musical is filled with 30’s styled burlesque and smart gags, terrific dancing (especially the tap numbers like “Anything Goes”). But it is the charmingly winning performance by Stephanie Binetti anchors this most enjoyable show. This show is a lesson for young aspiring writers and producers as how to thoroughly win audience approval–just find witty and smart songs and put them in wacky and totally humorous situations filled with strong voices and zestful dancing (and , of course, use spirited tap numbers). Anything Goes presents as a escapist, fun hilarious treat filled with many of the classical show tunes that most of us know. It leaves you humming the tunes with a smile on your face long after leaving the theatre. Marriott Theatre continues to offer stage worthy entertainment and their Anything Goes sure continues that tradition. This is a “must see” production.