Play: Anything Goes
Group: Family Musical Theater
Venue: Ivory Theatre, 7622 Michigan
Dates: July 25, 26, 27
Tickets: $15 and $18; call 314-894-0572
Story: Wall Street stock broker Billy Crocker stows away on an ocean line bound from New York City to London in 1934 in order to be near the woman he loves, Hope Harcourt. Unfortunately, Hope is engaged to a stuffy English nobleman, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, but Billy is convinced Hope really loves him instead, with Hope’s marriage being coerced by her money-loving mother. Also on board for the music and comedy hijinks are a low-level gangster, Moonface Martin, and his sidekick Erma, masquerading as a minister and missionary, respectively, as well as Billy’s friend, nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, and Billy’s boss, tycoon Elisha Whitney.
With music and lyrics by Cole Porter, an original book by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton that was refined by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and updated for a 1987 revival by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman, Anything Goes is a time-tested, song-and-dance delight.
Highlights: Lindsey Jones and Colleen Hart McGowan display fine singing voices as Reno and Hope, respectively, with the former shining on a number of the show’s signature tunes, including I Get a Kick Out of You, Blow, Gabriel, Blow and the title tune Act One finale. McGowan capably handles the pleasant ballad, Easy to Love, and is charming as well in duets with Christopher Long, an engaging Billy Crocker, on It’s De-Lovely and All Through the Night. Long also teams nicely with Jones on the classic and clever Porter number, You’re the Top.
Other Info: Others in the cast include veteran comic Tom Yager as devoted Yale man Whitney, Joe O’Connor as goofy gangster Moonface, Amalia LaViolette as man-crazy Erma, Larry Love as the kind-hearted but slow-on-the-uptake Evelyn, Sylvia Doucot as the headstrong Mrs. Harcourt, Terry Love as the ship’s purser and John Perks as the captain.
Direction by Mike Hesser is overly relaxed, accounting for lengthy pauses and too many unsatisfactory character interpretations. Kevin Jones’ musical direction is hit and miss, but his set design nicely sets the nautical mood, and he handles costuming chores as well. Tom Skillman provides the sound design and Chris Donovan does the lighting. The simple choreography is courtesy of Mary Fedak and Larry Love.
All in all, an overly long evening rescued by that wonderful Porter music and some pleasant singing by key players.
Rating: A 2.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.