Theatre Mirror Reviews "Anything Goes"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"Anything Goes"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

North Shore Music Theatre's 59th season opening musical is the classic Cole Porter 1934 "Anything Goes". It is owner and producer Bill Hanney's fifth season at NSMT. This show was originally written for Ethel Merman, the show's book was revised in 1962 and again in 1987. Director Charles Repole infuses the show with high energy.This musical takes place in the 1930's aboard the luxury liner S.S. America, sailing from New York to London 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 evangilist, Reno Sweeney is the basic storyline.  Throw in boy's heavy drinking boss, girl's overbearing and domineering mother, public enemy #13, his sexy gun moll, Reno's 4 fallen angels, the captain, assorted crew and passengers plus fabulous choreography and fantastic musical accompaniment and you have one of the outstanding shows of this spring season.

Charles shows his versatility with excellent direction and the pacing of the dialogue. His blocking of the show is terrific as is Michael Litchefeld dynamite dance numbers. These magnificent dances include tap, tango, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers style dancing, the Charleston and many others. The two show stopping numbers are the tap dancing close of Act 1 in "Anything Goes" and in the gospel revival dance number "Blow Gabriel, Blow". Music director Milton Granger not only conducts the ten piece orchestra but obtains gorgeous harmonies in "Bon Voyage", "There'll Always be a Lady Fair", "Anything Goes", "Public Enemy Number One" and "Blow Gabriel Blow". The outstanding leading lady is Danette Holden as Reno. She is a sultry sexy brunette who delivers her funny one liners perfectly. She is a triple threat performer. Danette possesses a strong belting voice and she dances up a storm in "You're the Top" with Billy, "Friendship" with Moonface, tap dancing terrifically in "Anything Goes", "Blow Gabriel Blow" and a tango in "The Gypsy in Me" with Evelyn. She is tough as nails but shows a tender side in "I Get a Kick out of You" when she puts the moves on Billy. Danette makes the role her own like Merman and Lapone before her.

Her fantastic leading man is Eric Ulloa as Billy. He is another triple threat performer who handles the comic shtick perfectly while possessing a terrific tenor voice which he displays in "You're the Top" with Reno, "Easy to Love", It's DeLovely" with Hope and the romantic ballad "All Through the Night" with Hope and the crew. Eric displays his dancing prowess in his first song with Danette and "It's Delovely" with Hope. His many comic disguises are hilarious as he tries to elude being captured by the Purser who is played by Zak Edwards. Zak has a fabulous tenor voice which soars off the charts. The lovely Alessa Neeck plays Hope, the fiancee of Lord Evelyn who is really in love with Billy. She gives this girl a backbone to obtain what she wants. Aleesa's terrific soprano voice soars in the romantic duet "It's Delovely" in her poignant "Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye", and in the plaintive "All Through the Night". She displays her dancing skills in the duet, the gospel number and in the finale. Michael Mastro is a hoot as the prim and proper, British Lord Evelyn who misunderstands American sayings. He has a topnotch British accent and finally displays his bawdy side during "The Gypsy in Me".

Two other scene stealers are David Scott Purdy as Moonface Martin and Alaina Mills as Irma, his gun moll. David is fabulous as Public Enemy # 13. his thug like behavior in this role is hilarious. "Friendship" and especially "Be Like A Bluebird" are laugh out loud moments. David's strong tenor singing voice and dancing prowess shine through in both numbers. Alaina is a spitfire as the man crazy, Irma. She sings and dances up a storm in this comic role. Alaina's solo, "Buddie Beware" stops the show with her dancing prowess and powerful belting singing voice. This eleventh hour torch song with the sailors. Two other comic roles are Billy's drunken boss, beautifully played by Tom Gleadow who shows off his pipes in "I Want to Row on the Crew" and Hope's snooty mother played to the hilt by Susan Cella. Both performers win many laughs during the show. Kudos to the whole cast for a superb job with their singing and dancing talents. A word of praise to Dawn Tucker for singing a powerful soprano obligato in "Blow, Gabriel, Blow". So for a magnificent opening musical of North Shore Music Theatre's 59th season, be sure to catch the tap dancing extravaganza "Anything Goes" before they tap dance their way out of town. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Anything Goes" (3 - 15 June)
@ 62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide