Setting Sail with Cole Porter
By Dan and Alison Tingley
Anything Goes, directed and choreographed by Almitra Clerkin, is now playing at the Erie Playhouse. The music is by Cole Porter, the original book is by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay, and Russel Crouse, and the new book is by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. The show won the 2011 Tony Award for best musical revival. “BroadwayWorld” calls it “musical theater for the ages” and Cleveland’s “News-Herald” calls it the “poster child for musical theater.”
Set in the 1930s on the S.S. American, Anything Goes is the story of Billy Crocker, assistant to Eli Whitney, a Yale man setting sail on the S.S. American, not the cotton gin guy. Billy is supposed to be going to Wall Street to sell a stock for his boss, but when he sees the love of his life, Hope Harcourt, boarding the ship, he has to figure out how to get on board. He uses a fake passport and ticket given to him by gangster Moonface Martin and his friend Erma to sneak on board the ship. The problem is that Hope is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh who is a very odd guy, and her mother, Evangeline Harcourt, is always around. Also on board is entertainer Reno Sweeney, Billy’s friend. Billy teams up with Moonface, Erma, and Reno to try steal Hope away from her fiancée, all the while trying to avoid being identified as a stowaway. You can imagine that comedy and chaos ensue. It’s like a Julie-less Love Boat with tap dancing and singing. (Julie was the cruise director. If you’re over 40, don’t pretend you didn’t know that.)
The cast includes Kate Murosky (Reno Sweeney), Billy Crocker (Bobby Copfer), Kristen Henry (Hope Harcourt), John Burton (Moonface Martin), Chad Gauthier (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh), Jenna Lindberg (Erma), Tom Wager (Elisha Whitney), and Crystal Corritore (Evangeline Harcourt).
Murosky should be on Broadway. The multi-talented actor brings the lovable character of Reno to life. Murosky was truly meant to be on stage. She impressed us with every facet of her character – singing, dancing, acting, timing. She’s got it all in buckets. You know, if you could carry that stuff in buckets.
Copfer does a good job with both acting and dancing. When he stayed in his range, his singing was quite good as well.
Henry has a fine singing voice. She dances well. And she played her character with heart and charisma.
Burton does a phenomenal job of making public enemy number 13 into an endearing character. No surprises here. His singing and acting are untouchable.
Gauthier makes his character charming in a goofy, naive way. Lindberg is just adorable from start to finish. Wager is fun. Just watching him walk around without his glasses makes for a fun evening. Corritore goes over the top.
Among the minor characters, we really enjoyed listening to Chad Bonifazi (Purser) sing. We also enjoyed just about everything Brennan Staaf (Luke) did. We’d love to see more of both of these actors. Dancing credits should go especially to Catharyn Burton (Purity), Laurie Fitzgerald (Virtue), and Tim Crandall (sailor). In addition to dancing extremely well, Fitzgerald and Crandall both looked like they were having a great time on the stage.
The set is cute. The costumes and wigs are appropriate for the time period. The orchestra, conducted by Andrew Rainbow, is wonderful.
One problem with the show is that the dance numbers are a bit crowded. At times you can see the dancers calculating how to avoid running into each other. There were also some sound issues where microphones did not get turned on. We hope that the sound glitches were limited to the performance that we attended.
Anything Goes runs through February 17. It’s definitely an entertaining show. For more information and tickets call the Erie Playhouse box office at 814-454-2852 or go online to www.erieplayhouse.org.