Volume 92, Issue 76
Thursday, February 11, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Anything cruises merrily along
© Michael Longstaff/Gazette
© Michael Longstaff/Gazette
By Jill Sutherly
Written in the age of midnight sailings, ocean crossings and shipboard romances, Anything Goes preserves the age's jazzy tempo, mixes in a tender if not tangled love story and sprinkles it all with plenty of comedy. Althouse Productions proudly presents vintage Cole Porter.
The cast of Althouse's performance of Anything Goes is relaxed and care-free, which only adds to the romantic aura of the show. Led by director Christine Lacey and producer Riley McMullen, the entire ensemble from the smallest parts to the lead ones put forth an entirely engaging and energetic performance.
Anything Goes takes place on board a steamer headed to England upon which various humourous trials and tribulations occur as the characters sail into a chaotic paradise. Billy Crocker, a young stockbroker, stows away on the ship in a final attempt to convince his lady love Hope, who is already engaged with the British Lord Evelyn, that she actually loves him too.
He is aided by Reno Sweeny, the famous female nightclub evangelist and a gangster named Moonface Martin otherwise known as Public Enemy No. 13 who has also stowed away but for much more nefarious reasons. The sailing is anything but smooth as the plot continues to thicken with disguise, impersonations and a recipe for downright disaster.
The acting in Anything Goes is impressive overall, with especially strong portrayals of the protagonist characters Reno Sweeny, played by Teresa Dunat and Billy Crocker, played by Simon Hancox. Their chemistry on stage is a critical aspect of the musical and the pair delivers with flying colours.
However, the ultimately refreshing performances put forth by Greg Cawsey and Lanny Fleming, who play secondary characters Moonface Martin and Sir Evelyn Oakleigh respectively, prove most memorable. Their equally charming and often hilarious portrayals of two unique passengers on board a steamship sailing socially troubled seas, is evidence these actors embrace their roles whole-heartedly. They have definitely achieved the utmost in theatre success with their characters.
The voyage includes an infectious musical score, including dazzling tunes such as "Anything Goes," "You're the Top," "Friendship" and the dynamic "Blow Gabriel Blow." Each are presented energetically, while they are beautifully choreographed. The band accompaniment truly captures the 1930s romping upbeat tempo, but at times they perform their job too well. Unfortunately, the singing in certain scenes is prone to being drowned out on stage.
The set design is simple and effective, incorporating a nautical theme, while the lighting is used subtly to depict the background of open sky. Though the production closes nearly two and a half hours after it begins, the well-performed show's entertaining plot ensures the show does not drag.
It is evident the cast of Anything Goes has reached a point where they can fully enjoy their roles. This playful atmosphere is naturally transferred outwards to the audience, with the result being a contagiously entertaining evening.
Anything Goes is playing at Althouse College until Saturday.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999