Review: 'Anything Goes' at Westchester Broadway Theatre

Head to WBT to enjoy a great lunch or dinner followed by a glittering trip aboard the SS American. Bon voyage!

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 By: Nancy Sasso Janis Source: Patch

The 206th production at Westchester Broadway Theatre is the upbeat and sumptuous ANYTHING GOES with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. The WBT version is both directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, with musical direction by Patrick Hoagland.

The musical ANYTHING GOES came at a time when the public needed a show with sophisticated and tuneful songs that would allow them to forget their troubles and laugh aloud at characters enjoying the affluent lifestyle that most of them could not afford. Cole Porter wrote this light show about rich and glamorously dressed individuals traveling on an ocean liner that are more worried about which celebrities are onboard than whether they will arrive safely. And that glorious music includes "I Get A Kick Out of You," "It's Delovely," "Friendship," "You're the Top" and of course, "Anything Goes."

Stacia Fernandez stars in the role of Reno Sweeney, the character played by the mighty Ethel Merman back in the day. Ms. Fernandez, who was last seen as Tanya in MAMMA MIA at WBT, was quite mighty herself. Her powerful singing voice made all of her solos memorable and her duets were just as wonderful. Zach Trimmer, who gave a heartfelt performance as Tony in WBT's WEST SIDE STORY, was a charming Billy Crocker and of course, sang everything flawlessly.

What a treat to see Jon J. Peterson in the featured role of Moonface Martin. Mr. Peterson is the author and solo performer in HE WROTE GOOD SONGS, a performance that I was lucky to catch at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury. He has also appeared on Broadway/Off-Broadway in CABARET, GEORGE M. COHAN TONIGHT, HALF A SIXPENCE and can be heard on several recordings produced by Chip Deffaa, including his most recent release"Gay Love: Songs of Love, Loss, and Longing."This wonderful actor brought out the high comedy in this cartoon of a role with just a look and I could not help but smile every time he stepped on the WBT stage.

Jackie Raye made her WBT debut in the role of the lovely debutant Hope Harcourt; she sang and danced very well, and wow, does she get to wear the best time period outfits. Kevin Pariseau was most comical as the veddy English Lord Evelyn and Mychal Phillips made her WBT debut as Erma and brought out the broad comedy in the role.

Tina Johnson made her WBT debut as the mother of Hope and Bob Walton was the boss of Billy named Elisha Whitney. The hard-working ensemble that never seemed to stop dancing, and in fact came out for bits of dance during set changes, included Kelly Black, Katie Scarlett Brunson, Caroline Chisholm, Kelly Gleason, Lily Lewis, Mallory Nolting, Joseph Cullinane (Dance Captain,) Will Geoghegan, Leeds Hill, Thadd Krueger (Fred the bartender, and the minister) Seth Lerner (Captain of the ship,) Jason Daniel Rath (Luke,) Joey Simon (John.)

The choreography was as top notch as it needs to be in this show and included lots of tap dancing. The audience enjoyed the little dance breaks between many of the scenes that gave actors time to change their costumes yet again.

The nautical set design with an art deco flourish was by Steve Loftus, with fine lighting by Andrew Gmoser. Grumpy's Props found the old-time radio that opened the show. The seven backstage musicians never overwhelmed the singers as they covered the glorious score; the musical director was on a monitor.

The upper-class costumes designed by Keith Nielsen were provided by Costume World Theatrical USA in Florida. Every single outfit and there were lots of them for every member of the cast except for the actor playing Moonface Martin, was a masterpiece from the 1930s. The wig and hair design by Gerald Kelly was equally outstanding. My only quibble would be that some of the costume pieces needed a bit of attention from a seamstress before the next performance. Two earrings, or perhaps one that broke in half, fell off during one of the early tap numbers and thankfully did not cause any missteps before they were stealthily removed by a sailor several scenes later.

Guests of the Westchester Broadway Theatre are encouraged to dress to impress, but formal dress is not necessary. On this trip to WBT, I chose the yummy chicken marsala served with pasta and my well-dressed son went with the prime rib. It's Delovely...It's Delicious! and Moonface Martini are the specialty cocktails for this show.