ANYTHING GOES(Original 1934 Version)
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse
Orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett and Hans Spialek
Choral Arrangements by Ray Johnson
Additional Orchestrations by Russell Warner
1934 Libretto and Score Restoration by Jay Dias
Director/Choreographer - Penny Ayn Maas
Music Director/Conductor - Jay Dias
Set Design – Dave Tenney
Costume Coordinator – Margaret Claahsen
Production Stage Manager – Jack H Degelia
Sound Design – Bill Eikenloff
Lighting Design Julie N. Simmons
CAST (in order of appearance)
Bartender – Peter DiCesare
Mr. Elisha J. Whitney – David Meglino
Billy Crocker – J. Clayton Winters
Reno Sweeney – Daron Cockerell
Reporter – Jonathan Hardin
First Cameraman – Jack Bristol
Second Cameraman – Tatum Lee
Hope Harcourt – Kelly Silverthorn
Mrs. Wadsworth T. Harcourt – Deborah Brown
Sir Evelyn Oakleigh – Max Swarner
Bishop Dodson – David Fenley
Ching – Christian Luu
Ling – Vahn Phollurxa
Snooks – Jackie Raye
Reno’s Angels – Mary Jerome, Kimberly Pine, Ally Van Deuren, Sydney Kirkegaard, Haley Jane Schafer, Jackie Raye, Caroline Ellis, Abigal Gardner
First Federal Man – Mark Oristano
Second Federal Man – Trevor Martin
Reverend Dr. Moon – Andy Baldwin
Bonnie Letour – Rachel Reininger
Mrs. Wentworth – Sarah Comley Caldwell
Mrs. Frick – Amy Stevenson
Steward – Peter DiCesare
Purser – Jack Bristol
Sailor Quartette – Alex Heika, Scott Sutton, Trevor Martin, Tyler Jeffrey Adams
Babe – Kimberly Pine
Chief Petty Officer – Rhett Warner
Captain – James Williams
Mr. Swift – David Fenley
Junior – Patrick Shukis
Assistant Purser Bartlett – Jonathan Hardin
Man With Beard – James Williams
Ship’s Drunk/Lord Oakleigh – Mark Oristano
Butler – Scott Sutton
Maids – Sydney Kirkegaard, Abigail Gardner, Ally Van Deuren,
Ensemble – Sally Soldo, Amy Stevenson, Sarah Comley Caldwell, Abigail Gardner, Caroline Ellis, Jackie Raye, Haley Jane Schafer, Sydney Kirkegaard, Ally Van Deuren, Kimberly Pine, Mary Jerome, Rachel Reininger, Ryan C. Machine, Chapman Blake, Jordan Crites, Rhett Warner, Jack Bristol, Jonathan Hardin, Tatem Lee, Peter Di Cesare, Taylor Jeffrey Adams, Trevor Martin, Scott Sutton, Alex Heika, James Williams, David Meglino, Vahn Phollurxa, Christian Luu, David Fentley
Conductor – Jay Dias
VIOLINS– Stephen Bell (concertmaster), Tonda Sykes, Karina Sim, Ha Dang, Inga Kroll, Thane Isaac, Rachel Bundy, Randy Lyle, Usman Peguero, Mary Havenstrite, Jana Powers
VIOLAS– Annika Donnen, Miguel Cantu IV, Ethan Rouse
CELLOS – Eric Smith, Chris Philpott, Leijing Zhou
DOUBLE BASSES– Talon Davis, Phillip Friend
REED I – (Oboe, English Horn, Bass Oboe, Ocarina), Jason Paschall
REED II – (Clarinet, Alto Sax, Baritone Sax, Ocarina), Christy Springer
REED III - (Picolo, Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Ocarina), Christian Gonzalez
REED IV – (Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Sax, Ocarina), Bobby Lapinski
TRUMPETS – Miles Johnson, Abel Sanchez, Denise Stitzel
TROMBONE – Marty Kobuck
PERCUSSION – Jeff Keane, Megan
Reviewed Performance: 6/17/2016
Reviewed by Joel Taylor, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
While the opening scene is set in a bar in New York, most of this romantic comedy is set aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. The story is set in the 1930’s and includes an assortment of stereotypical characters that represent the economic and social strata of the time, Notable characters in this fun, romantic and madcap comedy include; Billy Crocker a stowaway who is in love with Hope Harcourt, an heiress that he had previously met and spent several hours in a taxi and then lost contact with. Hope Harcourt is a young heiress engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh a handsome and stuffy English nobleman. They are on their way to London, accompanied by Hope’s mother. Elisha Whitney, Billy’s boss is traveling on the ship on his way to London for a business deal. He believes that Billy is in New York taking care of the business. Also on the ship is Reno Sweeney, a former evangelist turned nightclub singer with her back-up singers. “Moonface” Martin, public enemy #13, is in disguise as a minister and missionary, who brings along his gangster moll Bonnie. On board is also a real missionary with two Chinese Christian converts (with an affinity for gambling), singing and dancing sailors, and an odd assortment of ships passengers.
Director/Choreographer Penny Ayn Maas makes her directorial debut in the Dallas metro area with ANYTHING GOES at Lyric Stage. Prior to this production, Maas worked as a professional singer and dancer in New York City for over 20 years. Which includes work in shows on Broadway as well Tony award winning productions. This experience is very apparent in this production of ANYTHING GOES. The singing and dancing in this production is superb, and in my opinion, one of the several strengths of the show.
Music Director/Conductor Jay Dias conducts a full orchestra for this production. As the patrons are seated, they are treated to the overture from the orchestra. During the show, the orchestra is flawless as they work with the approximately 20 songs and accompanying the choreography throughout out the show. Some of the stand out songs of the evening included “I Get a Kick Out of You (Reno), “There’s No Cure Like Travel” (Ensemble), “Kate The Great” (Reno and Girls), “All Through the Night” (Billy, Hope, and Sailors), “Sailors Chanty” (Quartette), “Where Are The Men” (Bonnie, Babe, Petty Officer and Girls), “You’re the Top” (Billy and Reno), “Anything Goes” (Reno, Quartette and Ensemble), “Public Enemy Number One” (Quartette and Ensemble), and “Blow Gabriel Blow” (Reno and Ensemble).
The set is designed by Dave Tenney and costume coordination by Margaret Claahsen respectively, appears to closely follow the design and costume choices made by earlier Broadway productions to represent the 1930’s style and design. The stage area is divided into three levels. Upstage is the design of the deck of a large ship, complete with stairs on each side of the stage that lead to an upper deck where several songs and scenes take place. For scenes that do not include the ship, the upstage drape is drawn so that the mid and down stage areas can represent other locations that include a bar area and the inside of an English mansion. Costuming choices by Claahsen include time period suits, ties and hats typically worn by men and boys of that era. Costumes for the women include upscale, conservative and time period appropriate dresses for the women. Dresses worn by Hope are conservative and elegant. While most of the costuming worn by Reno is more daring and includes at times an abundance of “sparkle”. I did note that one costume choice of a shirt and slacks for Reno, while mirroring the style and design of earlier Broadway productions, did not offer a flattering fit for the actress playing the role of Reno.
The lighting design by Julie N. Simmons is notable for its sometimes subtle changes and abrupt changes that include a variety of lighting colors that believably represent the inside of a bar, full sun on a ship, the interior of an elegant English mansion and a starry night that had the audience “oohing and ahhing”.
Effective sound design can be very challenging for large casts. Not so for Bill Eikenloff. All of the actors and singers were clearly heard and appreciated.
J. Clayton Winters as Billy Crocker is one of the foundations that build this story. From the opening scene in the bar where Billy meets with his boss and then interacts with Reno and throughout the show, Winters plays the character with realism and a naturalness of character and situation that had me believing that this is a real person in real situations instead of an actor “presenting” on stage. The opening scene in the bar, where he meets with his boss, Mr. Elisha J. Whitney played by David Meglino, is accomplished with just the right blend of deference and cockiness toward his boss. I also appreciated his timing and recovery of that scene when Whitney played by Meglino talks about sending or receiving a “text message”. The line was out of place and lost on the audience. But, the scene was recovered by Winters. He is genuine in his interactions with each of the characters with whom he interacts during the show. Which makes this character endearing.
Reno Sweeny is portrayed by Daron Cockerell. Cockrell has a tremendous voice and puts her heart and soul in every song that she sings as Reno. Cockerell plays Reno with an air and attitude that is saucy and full of sass. The exception being in scenes when she is telling Billy that she is going to get Evelyn Oakleigh to marry her. In these scenes we are able to see more of a seriousness approach with purpose and depth of character that is different from the flamboyant, slightly aloof and playful demeanor that Cockerell plays Reno during most of the show. Cockerell is simply amazing with her energy and voice when she sings “Anything Goes”, “Kate the Great” and “Blow Gabriel Blow”.
Kelly Silverthorn plays Hope Harcourt as a counter balance to the more flamboyant Reno. Silverthorn portrays Hope as a serious and sincere young lady that sometimes feels the “weight of the world” on her shoulders and resigned to her marriage with Sir Evelyn Oakleigh even though it is obvious that she is enamored with Billy. She uses a nice range of believable emotions in the various scenes with Billy to allow the audience to believe that she is in love with him and prefers his company than to Sir Evelyn. She is not too thrilled with Billy's plan to impersonate another gangster “Snake Eyes” to gain popularity from the passengers as a "real celebrity" on board. The different levels of depth of character she provides are enjoyable. When she sings “What a Joy to be Young” I was pleasantly surprised at the strength and skill of her vocals.
Max Swarner is Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, who adds yet another complex layer to already a ship full of zany cast of characters. Swarner very believably plays Sir Evelyn as a slightly bemused, somewhat naïve, young English Lord that is as unhappy as Hope is in their arranged engagement. When Sir Evelyn interacts with Hope and Billy and is totally oblivious to the connection between his fiancée and this stranger it is hysterical. When he offers to reward Billy for taking care of his girl, the audience giggled at the perceived ignorance of Sir Evelyn. The polished and seemingly effortless way that Swarner carries the bemused yet sophisticated character throughout his relationship issues in the story is a study in solid acting.
Andy Baldwin as Reverend Dr. Moon AKA “Moonface” public enemy #13 is brilliant. Baldwin blends the stereotypical characterization of a small statured “gangster with ambitions”, with great comic timing and character development that pours out in every scene. Whether if he is in the background, center stage, or exiting the scene. Baldwin developed a stiff backed swagger that works well with his characterization and gives the role a cartoonish aura that works very well in each scene. There is something to watch and learn from every scene that Baldwin is in.
The entire cast and crew of this production should be proud of what they have accomplished on stage. Producing the original 1934 “long play” version of ANYTHING GOES is an ambitious endeavor. Lyric Stage chose to do the original 1934 version with added music. This causes the musical to be longer than the standard two hours, at the performance I attended, it clocked in at almost three hours. For much of the show, the time flew by as I enjoyed and fully appreciated the choreography that kept the audience engaged in the intricacy and timing of the dance numbers. This production includes some of the finest singing that I have heard on stage in the past several months. The acting, especially by the leads is something that aspiring actors should come to see, if for no other reason than to learn the effectiveness of constancy of character and good comedic timing. Though, I also need to note that there is also some very solid acting in the ensemble, dance girls and more mature passengers. The production even includes a well behaved Pomeranian. Watch the show to see if I am referring to a two or four legged actor. This was the first production that I have had the pleasure of attending and reviewing at Lyric stage but it will certainly not be the last.
Carpenter Hall at Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving, TX 75062
Runs June 17-26, 2016
Thursday – Saturday 8PM - $25-$53
Sunday – 2:30 PM $25-$53
For information and to purchase tickets go to www.lyricstage.org or call 972-252-2787