Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Anything Goes"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"Anything Goes"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Turtle Lane Playhouse by The Alexander Children's Theatre School 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 Sharon Bisantz uses the 1987 version and creates an energetic musical with over 30 cast members. The show takes place in the 1930's aboard the luxury liner SS 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 evangelist, Reno Sweeney, is the basic storyline of the 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, a minister with his 2 converts from China and fellow passengers plus topnotch choreography by Annita Brockney, Lenni Kmiec and Sharon with musical direction by Bobbie Hoffmann and you have the ingredients for a fun filled show.

These kids show off their singing, acting and dancing talents."I Get a Kick Out of You" opens this version of the show as Reno puts the moves on Billy who only has eyes for Hope. The dance numbers by choreographers, Annita, Lenni and Sharon include tap, tango, the Charleston, the soft shoe and many others. The two show stopping numbers are the tap dancing "Anything Goes" which closes Act 1 by Annita and the gospel revival number "Blow Gabriel Blow" by Lenni. Music director Bobbie uses digital music sequencing and orchesration for this show (which she also does on Broadway) She obtains beautiful harmonies from the cast in the group numbers "Bon Voyage", Public Enemy Number One", the title song, "Blow Gabriel Blow" and All Through the Night". The duets and trios sound wonderful, too. The multitude of gorgeous 1930's costumes are by Richard Itczak with lighting and set design by John MacKenzie.. Stage manager Mariagrazia LaFauci keeps things moving smoothly all night long.

Gillian Gordon is fabulous as Reno Sweeney. She wears a long red wig, gives her lines a sultry lilt who delivers her one liners perfectly. Gillian is a triple threat performer whose singing, dancing and acting shines all night long. She dances up and down the staircase during "You're the Top", tap dances up a storm with her Angels during "Anything Goes" (The three outstanding Angels are wonderfully played by Stephanie Malis, Terilyn Eisenhauer and Zoe Stephens-North) Gillian does a revival type dance with the chorus in "Blow, Gabriel Blow" and does a tango in "The Gypsy in Me" with Lord Evelyn.Paul Kmiec is fantastic as Billy Crocker. He has a voice that will knock your socks off. His marvelous tenor voice is used in "You're the Top", "It's Delovely" and the romantic ballads "Easy to Love" and "All Through the Night". Paul wears many disguises to avoid being caught by the purser including pretending to be one of the sailors. He is an excellent dancer and shows off his prowess in a Fred and Ginger type dance to "Easy to Love" with Hope and he also taps in "Anything Goes".The dancing sailors are well played by Matt Morin and Chris Burgess and they stop the show with the angels and Erma in her "Buddie Beware" number in the second act. Two other strong performers are Cam Reid as the captain and Lauren Jackson as the purser.

The beautiful Kailey Prior plays Hope, the fiancee of Evelyn who is really in love with Billy. She gives this ingenue the needed backbone to get what she wants. Her wonderful soprano voice soars in the duets with Paul,the upbeat "It's De-Lovely",the poignant ballad, "Easy to Love", her solo, the touching "Goodbye Little Dream Goodbye" and the plaintive duet, "All Through the Night". Ben Jackson who is 14 years old is a hoot as the prim and proper, Lord Evelyn who misunderstands the American terminology of words including step on it, hot pants. He has an excellent British accent and gets to show off his strong baritone voice and the bawdy side of the character in "The Gypsy in Me" done with Gillian where they tango together. Two other scene stealers are Ethan Higgins as Moonface and Tricia Whitlock as Erma. He is wonderful as this comic hoodlum in his stage debut. "Friendship" and "Be Like the Bluebird" are laugh out loud moments. Tricia is a hoot as this tough talking broad and her soft shoe song "Buddie Beware" with the sailors and angels is a show stopper. Hope's snobby mother is well played by Melissa Allen who makes her many funny one liners hit pay dirt while Billy's hard drinking near-sighted boss, is played by Matt Robertson who sings the Yale crew song. Two other comic characters are the two Chinese gamblers who cheat at poker played by Heidi Novack and Ellen Boyle. Kudos to everyone who make this a show to be proud of.

"Anything Goes" (15 - 17 January)
@ Turtle Lane Playhouse, 283 Melrose Street, NEWTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide