Anything Goes - and Cole Porter the perfect excuse to get to the Theatre this summer, don't miss this excellent fun!
Center Rep, you are the Top, the ANYTHING GOES cruise line ship has parked in Walnut creek Ca. Margaret Lesher stage and its intoxicating. The Center Rep closes its 48th season of great theatre with this Cole Porter classic. This pop of a champagne bottle is sure to bring a smile to anyone who attends this “De- Lovely” excuse for song and dance. Back in 1934 when this show premiered with a young Ethel Merman, it was considered a bit risque, but this company reminds us that no matter how mindless this ship is, ANYTHING GOES is an American classic.
Creative Director of Center Rep, Michael Butler assembled an excellent cast to bring some of Porter's best tunes to this revival. “You’re the Top”, “I get a Kick Out of You” “It's De-Lovely” and “Friendship”. Some of the songs added along the way of this shows history on stage. The script was written by creator P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton and revised before its 1934 opening by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The show was later rewritten for its 1987 and 2011 Broadway revivals.
This 23 member cast is on course - every one of them from the A list of local stages. Molly Bell as Reno Sweeny controls this ship, belting out Porters songs, she is excellent almost upstaging the main cast. Her take of the title song is impressive and in Act II “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” is a show stopper.
The story of course, a love stoty sitcom with all the standard plot twists and madness of 40’s musicals. It still holds strong even with the asian racism still intact - And two fun asian actors play the guys Michael Verzoa and Neal Pascua. The young stockbroker Billy Crocker is played by Joshua Hollister, who at times shows off his operatic talent. Crocker is in love with debutante Hope Harcourt played by Brittany Danielle who is set to marry Sir Oakleigh, played by local favorite Jeffrey Draper. Draper brings a class act of comic timing to this show, and he is so fun to watch on stage. Michael Gaffney plays the blinded boss misdirected throughout the story, and Linda DiVito plays hopes mom and is very funny in the role.
Colin Thomson is cast perfect as the low end comic sidebar gangster Moonface Martin. Thomson provides some of the best humor of this ride. The brilliant Lizzie O’Hara easily stands as tall as Molly Bell, both are a delight. O’Hara plays Erma the gangster female and is perfect in “Buddie Beware”. The female leads are dressed to shine by Victoria Lingstons-Halls gowns, they at times become the show. Reno is always in satin and the tap dancing is highlighted by the brilliant costumes. The art deco of the ship is also a scene stealer, designed by Michael Locher, his set is so very elegant. We have seen this ship on many stages with the two staircases and many doors ways to get the actors in and out, but Locher set is one of the stars of this show. The ten piece orchestra is perched on the upper level of the ocean liner set, under the direction of Brandon Adams, and brings Porter's tunes to perfect melody.
Tap dancing is of course what we come to see on this ship and Amanda Folena choreography is wonderful highlighted by the end of the first act high stepping “Anything Goes”. The shadows of light pouring from every port of the on stage ship is designed by Kurt Landisman, and the follow spot look keeps our eye on target with so many shticks that come and go in the madcap tail. Other players to mention include the classy sailor company with Anthony Rollins-Mullens, Ryan Cowles, Caleb Draper, Nat Rothrock, Jason Rehklau, Justin Buchs. Martin Newton as the busy Captain, Scott Maraj, Christine Macomber and the Reno’s Angels, Ariel Daly, Jenna Harris, Mary Kalita, and Amanda Sylvia. ANYTHING GOES is an Icon of American Musical history and a delight. This company is the best way to start your summer theatre, don’t miss this fun.
By Cole Porter, P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton and others,
presented by Center Repertory Company
Directed by Michael Butler, Music by Brandon Adams,
Choreography Amanda Folena
Through: Jun. 27 Lesher Center for the Arts,
1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek
Running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, with intermission
tickets at http://www.centerrep.org/
Photos by: kevinberne.com