SDMT’s ‘Anything Goes’ Sparkles and Charms
Child of wealth and Yale graduate, Cole Porter was a talented musician from an early age. He was able to live a life of luxury in both Europe and America. His 1934 musical, Anything Goes, came from a Broadway producer’s commission to write a show for a particular group of performers, including Ethel Merman. With an updated book by Howard Lindsay and John Weidman, Anything Goes continues to be regarded as one of the great musicals ever written. No wonder that San Diego Musical Theatre has chosen to produce it a second time.
Light as a bubbly glass of the finest champagne, Anything Goes should charm SDMT audiences through March 12.
Leading the cast of twenty-three are Allison Spratt Pearce as Reno Sweeney, Anthony Michael Vacio as Billy Crocker, Eliott Goretsky as Moonface Martin, Christianne Holly Santiago as Hope Harcourt, Zane Davis as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Dave Rivas as Elisha Whitney, Jasmine January as Erma Latour, and Wendy Waddell as Mrs. Harcourt
Set on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship’s captain (Kara Tuckfield) is dismayed that there are no celebrities boarding. On the dock Elisha Whitney and his young colleague, Billy Crocker are conferring. Whitney tells Crocker to sell all of his shares of a particular stock, as he’s sure that it is going to tank. Billy’s real interest in at the embarkment is to see Hope Harcourt, with whom he’s fallen in love and who is there with her protective mother, Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt. Mother Harcourt has brokered her daughter’s engagement to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh as a means to ensure her own financial future.
Meanwhile, through a mix-up Billy is given the passport and ticket for Snake Eyes Johnson, Public Enemy Number One. He suddenly finds himself being taken for the longed-for celebrity on board. Billy seeks out Reno Sweeney, the ship’s lead entertainer, for help, and Reno keeps Cole Porter’s tunes coming as the characters swirl around in various guises, including second rate gangster Moonface Martin, who has smuggled a gun on board in a violin case while disguising himself as a clergyman.
The production is well directed by Omri Schein, who is mindful of giving cast members specific “business” that not only keeps things interesting but sets just the right tone for a festive evening at the theatre. Janet Pitcher and Chong Mi Land have created elegant costumes and Monique Hanson did the same for hair and wig design. Both look lovely under Michelle Miles’ lighting design. Music Director Van Angelo has coached the cast to perform to orchestral tracks while staying in sync and avoiding apparent hesitation. He’s helped by Brandon Boomizad’s headset mic-dependent sound design. Rick Deussen’s scenic design is capable of shifting between the ship’s deck and individual cabins quickly. I rather liked Xavier J. Bush’s ballroom dancing choreography for the elegant ballads, but for a show that is supposed to be tap-happy, other the two big production numbers where it is essential (the title song and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow”) there was surprisingly little tap dancing on display.
Allison Spratt Pearce makes Reno Sweeney the centerpiece of the show whenever she is on stage. As Billy, Mr. Vacio displays a ringing tenor and a suave demeanor, even while amidst the mistaken identities of the plot. Ms. Santiago makes ingenue Hope Harcourt timid though clear of voice. Mr. Goretsky portrays “Public Enemy #13” as a bumbling, if amiable, sort. Ms. Waddell wisely avoids stereotyping Hope’s mother as a battle-axe. Mr. Davis, Mr. Rivas, and Ms. January play the humor in their roles with gusto.
Mr. Shein’s program note quotes another Cole Porter lyric: “Let’s do it/let’s fall in love.” To quote another Cole Porter lyric, yes, SDMT’s production of Anything Goes should be “easy to love.”
DOWNLOAD CAST AND CREDITS HERE
Other cast members include Johnisa Breault, Ellie Barrett, Marlon Magtibay, Cody Bianchi, Ian Black, Ava Francis, DarRand Hall, Sophia La Rosh, Dan Mason, Katey Konderik-Oducayen, Carly Salway, Kara Tuckfield, Victoria Villamil, E.Y. Washington, and Eli Wood.
Performs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at the San Diego Musical Theatre, at 4650 Mercury Street, San Diego, CA 92111. Parking is mostly on nearby streets. Be careful to observe signs and curve markings that limit where and for how long one can park. Tickets are available from the theatre’s website, as well as by phone at 858-560-5740. The run time is approximately two hours and forty-five minutes, including one intermission.
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