All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
Machine guns, seagulls, and tap dancing, oh my! Con men were preachers and Reno’s angles were devils in disguise in Stone Bridge High School’s production of “Anything Goes,” a show in which everything certainly went well.
Cole Porter’s old-school musical “Anything Goes” debuted at the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway in 1934, when America was in desperate need of happy distraction from the Great Depression. In classic screwball comedy style, the show depicts the antics of passengers aboard the S.S. American, a cruise ship bound from New York City to London, England.
Front and center is Reno Sweeney, a nightclub singer who falls in love with Englishman Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, who is unhappily engaged to Hope Harcourt. Hope doesn’t want to marry Sir Evelyn either, because she has a bit of a history with Billy Crocker, a stowaway who tries to win Hope’s affection. Aiding Billy with his shenanigans is the hilarious Moonface Martin, public enemy number thirteen, and his sidekick Bonnie. Tori Fantasia commanded the stage as Reno Sweeney, with a performance that echoed back to the days of Ethel Merman. Fantasia shone with confidence and poise as she danced and sang in numbers such as “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and “Take Me Back to Manhattan.”
Daniel Delaney tickled roars of laughter from the audience as stowaway Billy Crocker, with impersonations of anything from George Bernard Shaw to a ‘Chinchillian’ gentleman. Ian Peterson stole the show as Moonface Martin, never missing a comedic beat, particularly during a scene in which his machine gun accidentally broke. Peterson added welcome energy to the show and maintained a side-splitting Brooklyn accent through songs such as “Be Like the Bluebird” and “Friendship.”
Natalie Martell provided an anchor as Hope Harcourt, perhaps the only normal character in the show. Her voice swooped and soared in “It’s Delovely” and her dancing was poised and pretty. Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, her bumbling fiancé played by Chris Sanderson, provided droll bursts of comedy throughout the show with a spot-on English accent.
The centerpiece of the set was an incredible ship’s hull, complete with a balcony and walls that spun around and effortlessly turned into cabins. For the most part, an efficient run crew pulled off set changes without a hitch. Sixteen leads and principles sported wireless microphones, a huge feat that was executed with dexterity, although it was sometimes difficult to hear them over the orchestra. Lighting suffered a few mishaps with the use of spotlights and house lights, but utilized a scrim that elegantly silhouetted the ship’s hull. In general, the actors’ energy fluctuated, instead of building as the show went on. Certain members of the ensemble seemed uncomfortable with the sheer amount of dance numbers in the show, leading the audience to wonder if quantity was being favored over quality. But the cast pulled off numerous tap dances with a smile, accompanied by a fabulous pit orchestra.
The cast and crew of “Anything Goes” threw reason overboard and ensured for an evening of riotous laughter and side-splitting antics!