Newport County's Swanhurst Chorus, under the direction of Jonathan F. Babbitt, presents its 17th Annual Tribute to Broadway with Cole Porter's 1934 musical, "Anything Goes". Originally written for Ethel Merman, the shows book was revised in 1962 and again in 1987. Director Jonathan Babbitt takes the best part of all of them to create this high energy musical treat. The show takes place in the 1930's aboard the luxury liner S.S. American, sailing from New York to England with a group of unusual passengers. The story of boy, Billy Crocker, who loves girl, Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to wealthy British suitor, Lord Evelyn, who is pursued by singing and dancing evangelist, Reno Sweeney, is the basic storyline of this show. Throw in boy's heavy drinking boss, girl's domineering mother, public enemy # 13, his sexy gun moll, Reno's 3 fallen Angels, the captain, his sailors and passengers to complete the cast. Jonathan also is the musical director, plays the piano, taught the cast the beautiful well known music but also cooks the fabulous dinner, too. This energetic show is rewarded with a resounding ovation at curtain call. This show is presented in a dinner style theater setting with intimate staging with the audience sitting on the USS American. The meal choices consist of roast pork in brown gravy or Chicken, a boneless breast of chicken finished with cream sauce with as much salad and rolls you can eat as well as asparagus, mashed potatoes and coffee with a dessert buffet.
Jonathan blocks the show beautifully. He also obtains lovely harmonies in the group numbers "Bon Voyage", "Public Enemy Number One", the title song, "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", "It's Delovely" and "Take Me Back to Manhattan". The two show stopping numbers are the dancing "Anything Goes" in Act 1 and the gospel revival dance number "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" in Act 2 where the three angels strike a pose like Charlie's Angels at the close of the song. The leading lady, Charlotte Snowden who plays Reno Sweeney is a sultry, sexy blonde who delivers her many funny one liners remarkably. She possesses a strong belting voice in "You're the Top" and in "Anything Goes" as well as dancing in "Friendship", "Let's Misbehave" and a sexy dance with her girls in the Manhattan number. But it is in "I Get a Kick Out of You", her ballad about loving Sir Evelyn that she tugs at your heartstrings and brings out the tender side of the tough as nails, Reno Sweeney. Charlotte makes the role her own. The fantastic leading man, Jason Shealy plays Billy Crocker. He handles the comic aspects of the role and gets to show off his topnotch tenor voice in "You're the Top", "It's Delovely" and "Friendship" as well as in the romantic ballad "All Through the Night". Jason was terrific as Curly last year in "Oklahoma".
The lovely Sophie Plowright plays Hope, the fiancee of Sir Evelyn who is really in love with Billy. She gives this gal the needed backbone to get what she wants. Sophie's wonderful soprano voice soars in the romantic duet "It's Delovely" and the plaintive, "All Through the Night". She shows off her dancing skills in the gospel number and in the finale of the show. Brandon Clark is a hoot as the prim and proper, Sir Evelyn who misunderstands the American slang sayings. He has a topnotch British accent and gets to show off the bawdy side of his character in "Let's Misbehave" with Charlotte. Two other scene stealers are Jeremy Hansonl as Moonface and Erin Toppa as Bonnie. Jeremy is fabulous as public enemy # 13. His New York accent and his behavior as this comic hoodlum are hilarious. "Friendship" and his shooting of a machine gun are laugh out loud moments and his strong voice and dancing ability shine through in his songs. Erin plays the dumb blonde gun moll in this show wonderfully. She plays a sexy vamp who all the sailors love madly. Erin gets to strut her stuff and sing in "Heaven Hop" and "Let's Step Out" while leading the girls dancing. The three angels are well played by Lisa Babbitt, Blake Nance and Charlotte Solly who get to show off their great voices and dancing ability in these roles. Mattie Gustafson handles the role of Mrs. Harcourt, Hope's snobby, mother while David Breton handles the role of Billy's boss, Mr. Whitney. The stern captain is played by Harry Gustafson and the purser by Nick Babbitt So for a fun filled evening of entertainment, be sure to catch Swanhurst chorus' show for a "Delovely" time. This is my 900th review!