“ANYTHING GOES” AT Westchester B’way Theatre

Published: Monday, August 13, 2018 By: Marlene S. Gaylinn Source: ON CT & NY THEATRE

 

The jolly S.S. American is docked at Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) and taking its audience’s back to the 1930’s.  The original, Cole Porter show made its Broadway debut in 1935 starring Ethel Merman as Reno, William Gaxton as Billy, and Victor Moor as Moonface. It was an instant, award-winning success and was revised several times -- most recently on Broadway in 2011, with more Cole Porter hits added.

As its title indicates, this is a show where anything goes for a laugh.  Basically, the crazy plot centers on a loud, nightclub singer, “Reno” (Stacia Fernandez) and two stowaways:  a love-struck “Billy” (Zach Trimmer), and Public Enemy No. 13, “Moonface” (John Peterson) and their girlfriends. The men’s deceptive encounters with the ship’s crew and crazy entanglements with their love interests, keep the lively action going.     

It’s very hard to be critical when the audience is so overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the numerous hit songs and lively, tap-dancing at WBT.  However, having heard Ethel Merman belt out these same Cole Porter songs during her later years, it's very hard to picture anyone else singing them.  Never the less, I will have to admit that as “Reno” Fernandez very credibly sings “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Blow Gabriel, Blow,” and in the lively duet, “Friendship” with “Moonface Martin.” 

Trimmer is a handsome and very believable “Billy.”  His voice has a surprising range and he performs some exciting tapping.    His girlfriend, “Hope” (Jackie Raye) has a lovely voice and is a perfect partner.   Moonface’s girlfriend, “Erma” (Mychal Phillips) needs a little more nervy, New Yorker distinction.

On the other hand, Jon Peterson, as the inept gangster, “Moonface,” milks everything he can out of his role and definitely steals the limelight. We dare you to take your eyes off him as he pulls out every shtick from the ancient book of comedy.  We also enjoyed Tina Johnson as “Mrs. Harcourt” – “Hope’s” social climbing mother.

It’s the songs and spectacular dancing that really wows the WBT’s audience and makes this show a big success.  Richard Stafford directed and is responsible for the lively choreography.  Patrick Hoagland directed the rich-sounding orchestra.

This dinner theatre’s menu features choices to suit everyone and parking is free.