The Dancing is “DeLovely” At WBT’s Anything GoesPublished: Monday, August 6, 2018 By: Barbara Solomon Josselsohn Source: Scarsdale10583.com
This Cole Porter musical made its Broadway debut in 1934 when theatergoers were still in the throes of the Great Depression and hungry for fantasy and escapism. With its opulent setting, expensively garbed characters, madcap subplots, and grand-scale production numbers, Anything Goes was just what the audience ordered. The show revolves around the love-struck Billy Crocker, who sneaks aboard the ship in pursuit of the object of his affection, Hope Harcourt. Alas, Hope is engaged to another passenger – but Billy is not deterred. In his effort to win her over, he crosses paths with a nightclub star, a quartet of backup singers, a gangster, some sailors, and even a Pomeranian. Not surprisingly, in the end, the boy gets the girl.
Of course, no discussion of Anything Goes is complete without paying homage to that fabulous Cole Porter score. While the action in the show is light, what endures are Porter’s brilliant and sophisticated songs – such as “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” “Anything Goes,” and “You’re the Top” (which features that iconic list of all the things that make life great, from the sublime to the mundane: You’re a melody from a symphony by Strauss! You're a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, you're Mickey Mouse!).
The WBT production is charming and fun, thanks largely to an exuberant ensemble with lots of dancing chops. Leeds Hill, Kelly Gleason, Katie Scarlett Brunson and Joseph Cullinane are among the cast members who are delightful to watch, both in the major numbers and as a diversion during scene changes. Stacia Fernandez, as nightclub singer Reno – a role originated by Ethel Merman and later revived on Broadway by Patty LuPone (1987) and Sutton Foster (2011) – gives a solid and endearing performance as this larger-than-life character. As the in-over-his-head Billy, Zach Trimmer is appropriately manic and has a pleasing singing voice to boot. Particular kudos go to Mychal Phillips, who is a joy as Erma, the gangster’s girlfriend.
Anything Goes runs through September 9th. For exact dates and times, visit www.BroadwayTheatre.com.