There's a reason that Anything Goes has been one of Broadway's most popular shows since its debut in 1934 - Cole Porter's classic tale of hijinks on the high seas is a ton of fun. And the latest production of it at the New Candlelight Theatre is no exception. From the lovely voices to the incredible choreography, the spot-on costumes to the impressive set, NCT's Anything Goes shouldn't be missed.
All but one scene of Anything Goes takes place aboard the SS American, a cruise ship heading from New York to London and in desperate need of some celebrity on the passenger manifest. Billy Crocker, a young Wall Street broker, is in love with Hope Harcourt, a young debutante who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Billy enlists the help of Reno Sweeney, an evangelist turned nightclub singer, and Moonface Martin, public enemy #13, to help woo Hope. A story of forbidden love and mistaken identity follows, and hilarity ensues.
Cole Porter's music and lyrics are what really bring this show to life. It's thanks to this show that we have such classic numbers as I Get a Kick Out of You, You're the Top, and It's De-lovely. As a dance-heavy musical, it could be easy for the lyrics and notes to get lost in the steps. But this cast never misses a beat. Sarah Spangenberg's Reno serves as our connection to the characters, involved in the events of the show but also making regular eye contact with the audience and drawing us into the action. Her sultry sarcasm in both lines and lyrics show a character who, despite her self-confidence, is just as desperate for love as Zachary Chiero's Billy. And whether he's the doe-eyed, love-struck boy chasing after Megan Pisors' Hope, or the unexpecting scheming sidekick to Patrick Reugsegger's Moonface Martin, Chiero's tenor is simply a joy to hear, breathing authenticity into everything he does. Pisors bleeds vulnerability as she struggles with her choices, while Reugsegger somehow splendidly manages to make a slimy mobster seem somehow loveable. And I would be remiss to neglect Connor McAndrews as Oakleigh. Sure, the entire show is funny. But McAndrews is downright hysterical as the out-of-place, malapropism-laden Brit who surprisingly suffers from his own dark secret(s). It would be easy for this character to be taken over the top, but McAndrews plays him perfectly.
But as good as the voices and acting are, they aren't even the best part! Dann Dunn's direction and choreography are smooth and fluid. Like the rolling of the ocean beneath them, the movement of the actors never stops, but also never feels forced or unnatural. Be it small bits like watching Chiero stumble across the deck while the rest of the cast sways smoothly with the rocking of the ship in Bon Voyage, specific moves like Kat Bourelli's Erma rolling over a pack of sailors in Buddie Beware, or full-company tap-heavy dance numbers like the show's title song, the cast's movements are incredibly fun to watch. They make full use of the stage and set, drawing you into the music and making you wish that you didn't have two left feet of your own, that you might be able to join them in their fun.
In fact, there's very little that will pull you out of the NCT Anything Goes experience. The set is gorgeous and well-used. The scene changes are quick and noiseless. The costumes are beautiful and vintage, hair and makeup also befitting the era. Other than a surprising amount of fog and a few odd lighting choices, the technical side of the show was just as strong as the cast.
There's a lot to love in Candlelight's production of Anything Goes - the singing, the dancing, the acting, the food. But whatever your reason for coming, you won't be disappointed... it is, after all, De-lovely! Anything Goes continues at the New Candlelight Theatre in Arden through May 11th. For more information and tickets, visit http://www.NCTstage.org
Posted at 11:07am on April 5, 2014 by Jason Thomas
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