Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Anything Goes"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"Anything Goes"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Star Players of Bristol County's 20th Anniversary production is Cole Porter's 1934 musical, "Anything Goes". Originally written for Ethel Merman, the show's book was revised in 1962 and again in 1987. Director Joel O. Thayer takes the best part of all of them to create this high energy musical masterpiece. The show takes place in the 1930's aboard the luxury liner S.S. America, 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 4 fallen Angels, the captain, his sailors and passengers plus fabulous choreography and fantastic musical accompaniment and you have one of the most outstanding shows around.

Joel shows his versatility in the excellent direction and pacing of the dialogue. His blocking of the show ensures that all the performers at seen at all times and he and choreographer Bill Wilson create some splendid picture post card moments in all the dance numbers, too. Joel's use of the runway during the show is wonderful and the beautiful ballad, "I Get A Kick Out of You" is a prime example of it. The magnificent dance numbers include tap, tango, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing, the Charleston, the horn pipe, a dance with mops and many others. The two show stopping numbers are the tap dancing "Anything Goes" in Act 1 and the gospel revival dance number "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" with a trumpet player at the top of the ship at the close of it. The music director, Charlene Dalrymple not only conducts the topnotch 9 member orchestra but obtains the gorgeous harmonies in the group numbers "Bon Voyage", "Public Enemy Number One", the title song, "There'll Always Be a Lady Fair", "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", "It's Delovely" and "Take Me Back to Manhattan". The duets and trios sound excellent, too. Joel also designed the two story luxury liner and the many backdrops and set pieces for the show to help create the perfect atmosphere, the outstanding 1930's costumes are designed by Jonna Klaiber while Justin Freeman designed the mood setting lighting and Bruce Yauger handles the sound to add the finishing touch needed for the evening's entertainment.

The outstanding leading lady, Pam Shapiro who plays Reno Sweeney is a sultry sexy red head who delivers her many funny one liners perfectly. She is a triple threat performer whose singing, dancing and acting in this huge role is fantastic. Pam possesses a strong belting voice and she does the tango in "You're the Top", tap dances up a storm during "Anything Goes" as well as dancing in "Friendship", "The Gypsy in Me", "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. Pam makes this role her own and shines as brightly as Merman and Lapone did before her. Brava. The fantastic leading man, Michael Borges who will be attending Emerson College in September, is another triple threat performer who handles the role of Billy Crocker with the ease of a well seasoned pro. He handles the comic shtick perfectly while possessing a majestic tenor voice which he uses in "You're the Top", "It's Delovely" and "Friendship" as well as in the romantic ballad "All Through the Night". Michael shows off his dancing prowess in "You're the Top" with Pam, the second one with Hope and the chorus, and "Friendship" with Pam and Moonface Martin. His many comic disguises are funny as he tries to elude being captured by the Purser. Michael is a multitalented young man who has a bright future ahead of him. Bravo,

The lovely, Danielle Cotter plays Hope, the fiancee of Sir Evelyn who is really in love with Billy. She gives this ingenue the needed backbone to get what she wants. Danielle's wonderful soprano soars in the romantic duet "It's Delovely" and the plaintive, "All Through the Night". She shows off her dancing skills in the romantic duet, in the gospel number and in the finale of the show. Kevin Broccoli is a hoot as the prim and proper, Sir Evelyn who misunderstands American sayings. He has a wonderful British accent and gets to show the bawdy side of his character in "The Gypsy in Me" and "Let's Misbehave" with Pam. Two other scene stealers are Paul Hayden as Moonface and Lauren Gemelli as Bonnie. Paul is fabulous as public enemy # 13. His New York accent and his behavior as this comic hoodlum are hilarious. "Friendship" and especially "Be Like the Bluebeard" are laugh out loud moments and Paul's strong voice and dancing ability shines thru in both of them. Lauren, a gorgeous gal who attends Manhattanville College, plays the dumb blonde gun moll in this show perfectly. She wears a blonde wig as this sexy vamp who all the sailors love madly. Lauren gets to strut her stuff and sing in "Heaven Hop" and "Let's Step Out" while leading the girls and the ensemble in the Charleston. The four angels are well played by Lindsey Cardoza, Tierney Leddy, Alexandra Adomaitis and Erica Lindblad who get to show off their great voices and great dancing ability in these roles. Denise Giblin handles the role of Mrs. Harcourt, Hope's snobby mother while James Gallagher handles the role of Billy's drunken boss, Mr. Whitney. The stern captain is played by Dan Gravely who also does the make-up for the cast with his beautiful wife, Atia. Zachary Gregus shows off his strong tenor voice in "Public Enemy, Number One" while Corey Matos and Albert Jennings are hoots as two Chinamen who cheat at poker on board the ship. Kudos to all the other cast members and everyone who made this a show to be very proud of. So for a phenomenal evening of entertainment, be sure to catch "Anything Goes" in Taunton. Tell them Tony sent you for a "Delovely" time.

"Anything Goes" (11 - 20 August)
Croteau Theatre, 500 Norton Avenue, TAUNTON MA
1 (508) 821-2524

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide