Cole Porter wrote songs for many film and stage musicals. Of these, ANYTHING GOES is right up there with KISS ME, KATE as his most famous. There are very few people who don’t recognize the tunes when they hear it to “I Get a Kick Out of You” and especially the title song. In addition to the songs, nothing is more important to ANYTHING GOES than the tap dancing. It is practically iconic. I waited with baited breath throughout Act One to see “the” dance. I remember performing this dance in various recitals. Let me tell you…it’s not easy. Was I disappointed? Hardly not. Many performances of this musical feature only a few trained tap dancers. Choreographer Suzanne Rainear had the entire cast going, although I’m not sure if they were all wearing tap shoes. Highly commendable!
In addition to the tap dancing and songs, the casting of Reno Sweeney can make or break the show. The role was immortalized with the famous alto belter, Ethel Merman. Sutton Foster just won her second Tony Award for playing Sweeney in the current revival. Director David Deratzian has a wonderful Reno in Maddie Wynne. She has a beautiful belting voice with tons of energy and fine natural nuances. She is able to elevate the less strong singers who perform with her.
In a nutshell, ANYTHING GOES tells the story of a ship crossing. The fun begins when all of the characters collide and begin to integrate into each other’s stories. Reno is the lead in the ship’s “entertainment”. Billy Crocker (Joe O’Neill) and Hope Harcourt (Alicia Landis) love each other, but Hope is engaged to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (John Castertano). Moonface Martin (Clark Van Hekken), a gangster, tries to hide out with Erma (Renee Grant). Hope’s mother, Evangeline (Katie Clements), and Elisha J. Whitney (Paul Trimbur) are very effective in supporting roles. It is a tale of romance, adventure on the high seas, and just plain fun.
I would like to give kudos, in addition to Wynne, to three people especially. Van Hekken is hilarious and very natural in his delivery. The always-reliable Castertano also seems to be having a ball, especially in “Gypsy in Me”. I saw him before as Nicely-Nicely in King of Prussia Players’ GUYS AND DOLLS, and he stole the show. He almost does here as well! Finally, congratulations to cast member AND orchestra member Mark Urmson! It takes a lot of talent to run from the orchestra to the stage in a sailor costume, but Urmson does it without missing a beat.
The singing, for the most part, is not quite as strong as the acting. There were a few songs that were out of tune and out of step. However, just a little more practice will get this production of ANYTHING GOES to the masterpiece Cole Porter intended it to be.
Original book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
New book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Directed by David Deratzian
November 4-12, 2011
King of Prussia Players
Upper Merion Area Middle School
450 Keebler Road
King of Prussia, PA 19406