Wednesday, March 7, 2018

ANYTHING GOES • New Line Theatre

The racy shenanigans and silly scheming going on among the passengers aboard a transatlantic cruise in Cole Porter’s, Anything Goes, offered a welcomed breather from the gloom of the Great Depression when it first set sail in 1934. New Line’s staging of the show’s 1962 version, energetically directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, includes a song list jam-packed with Porter standards like “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and “Anything Goes,” and a strong cast to make those numbers soar. Though the book’s greatest strength may be its role as a vehicle for the tunes, it does offer a keen depiction of an America where gangsters are worshipped like celebrities and evangelism is akin to show business. Not much has changed on that score.

Evan Fornachon is Billy Crocker, a young stockbroker there to see off his boss, Wall Street exec. Elisha J. Whitney (Jeffrey M. Wright). He decides to stow away on the SS American after he spots Hope Harcourt (Eileen Engel), a girl whose heart he aims to win. Hope is traveling to London with her well-heeled husband-to-be, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Zachary Allen Farmer), and her social-climbing mother, Mrs. Harcourt (Kimmie Kidd-Booker). Billy’s pal Reno Sweeney (Sarah Porter), who traded up in her career from evangelist to nightclub singer, decides to help Billy in his romantic quest, along with Moonface Martin -- Public Enemy No. 13 (Aaron Allen), a gangster in priest’s clothing, and Bonnie Letour (Sarah Gene Dowling), moll to a goon called Snake Eyes Johnson.

Reno (Sarah Porter) and the company of Anything Goes.
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
Porter’s Reno Sweeney -- bold, assured, and a little indecent, delivers a gleaming performance crooning through Cole Porter’s whip-smart lyrics, convincingly encouraging everyone to join the fun. Fornachon is smooth and appealing in portrayal and voice as Billy, whether he’s posing as Public Enemy No. 1 or trying to charm the pants off of Hope. Allen is a lively, humorously reluctant gangster, and thankfully, the ’62 version of the show includes a beefed-up role for Bonnie, and a freewheeling Dowling livens things up considerably with her renditions of “Heaven Hop,” and “Let’s Step Out.” Farmer is most entertaining and spot-on with stiff upper lip-ness as Sir Evelyn -- a humorless blue blood who starts to warm once he sets his eyes on Sweeney, and Engel is in fine voice as Hope Harcourt. Kidd-Booker is a hoot as her ceaselessly affronted mother, with Wright as a pitch perfectly gruff (and later tipsy as hell) Elisha J. Whitney.

Bonnie (Sarah Gene Dowling), Billy (Evan Fornachon)
and Moonface (Aaron Allen).
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line’s black box space is set up longways, with scenic designer Robb Lippert’s multi-leveled ship occupying the length, with the bow jutting out at an angle. Musical director Nicolas Valdez and the New Line Band do a fine job with the music (complete with little sailor caps) and Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack provide the choreography with Colene Fornachon devising the show’s swanky costumes.

Between the unlikely pairings and the trashy fun, this low comedy classic is bound to leave you with a smile on your face. It’s playing at the Marcelle until the 24th.

Reno (Sarah Porter), Sir Evelyn (Zachary Allen Farmer)
and Hope (Eileen Engel).
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Music/lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse, 
Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
Directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor
Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive
through March 24 | tickets: $15 - $25
Performances Thursdays to Saturdays at 8pm
$20 for adults and $15 for students/seniors on Thursdays; and $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors on Fridays and Saturdays

Chastity (Larissa White), Charity (Alyssa Wolf),
Purity (Michelle Sauer) and Virtue (Sara Rae Womack).
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
Moonface Martin: Aaron Allen
Bonnie Letour: Sarah Gene Dowling
Hope Harcourt: Eileen Engel
Sir Evelyn Oakleigh: Zachary Allen Farmer
Billy Crocker: Evan Fornachon
Mrs. Harcourt: Kimmie Kidd-Booker
Reno Sweeney: Sarah Porter
Elisha J. Whitney: Jeffrey M. Wright

Reno’s Angels
Purity: Michelle Sauer
Chastity: Larissa White
Charity: Alyssa Wolf
Virtue: Sara Rae Womack

Bishop/Captain: Dominic Dowdy-Windsor
Reporter/Purser: Will Pendergast
Everybody Else: Jason Blackburn, Clayton Humburg

Sailor (Jason Blackburn), Mrs. Harcourt (Kimmie Kidd-Booker),
Billy (Evan Fornachon) and Captain (Dominick Dowdy-Windsor).
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
Musical Director: Nicolas Valdez
Choreographers: Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack
Stage Manager: Erin Goodenough
Scenic and Lighting Designer: Rob Lippert
Costume Designer: Colene Fornachon
Assistant Costume Designer: Sarah Porter
Sound Designer: Ryan Day
Props Master: Kimi Short
Scenic Artists: Grace Brunstein, Judy Brunstein, Tamar Crump, Kathleen Dwyer, Mattilyn Johnson, Gary Karasek, Marija Metiva
Scenic Crew: Richard Brown, Nick Brunstein, Melanie Kozak, Patrick Donnigan, Paul Troyke, Kate Wilkerson
Volunteer Coordinator: Alison Helmer
Graphic Designer: Matt Reedy
Photographer: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Bonnie (Sarah Gene Dowling)
and the company of Anything Goes.
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
The New Line Band
Conductor/Piano: Nicolas Valdez
Trumpet: Ron Foster
Second Keyboard: Joel Hackbarth
Percussion: Clancy Newell
Guitar/Banjo: Adam Rugo
Bass: Jake Stergos

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