‘Anything Goes’ in the Moonlight
By Carol Davis
VISTA, California —One cannot escape the relaxed atmosphere under the stars in Vista, in particular under the stars at Vista’s Moonlight Amphitheatre. It’s here where aromas of home packed dinners and snacks permeate the air and theatergoers sit back in their seats with glasses of whatever washing down the goodies waiting for the curtain to rise signaling the beginning of the current Broadway musical offering. It is after all, summertime in Southern California, where the livin’ is easy.
That doesn’t mean everyone is relaxing, however. Take the crew and travelers aboard the cruise ship S.S. American heading to London from New York in Cole Porter’s 1934 musical Anything Goes. They are anything but your usual guests relaxing on the deck of this luxury liner. (N. Dixon Fish is credited for scenic art deco design, decoration and painting.)
We’re talking guys and dolls (read gangstas or Public Enemy #13) disguised as clergy, a crew of sailors that can tap like you’ve never seen, businessmen, lovers Hope and her distinguished Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, a money-hungry and controlling future mother-in- law, an evangelist turned cabaret singer named Reno and a woeful lover. And that doesn’t include the captain, a real live and stuffed dog and a quartet of dance hall girls appropriately named Purity, Charity, Chastity and Virtue. Ahh, the list goes on.
The combination of Cole Porter’s wonderful “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “You’re the Top”, “It’s De-lovely”, “Friendship” “Anything Goes” and “All Through the Night” and director/choreographer Jon Engstrom’s excellent choreography with picture perfect period dress coordinated by Roslyn Lehman, Renetta Lloyd and Carlotta Malone and Christina L. Munich’s wonderful lighting design still makes “Anything Goes” a show stopper.
The gags are ‘gimme a break’, and the one-liners are lodged in the 30’s vernacular and some politically incorrect scenes could be cut entirely from the show but it matters not when Cole Porter’s music is at stake and that’s exactly what entertains in this 80-year-old gem. Its Broadway revival last year garnered a Tony for Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeny.
The caper unfolds easily enough when Billy Crocker (Jeffrey Scott Parsons), an up and coming Wall Street broker drops off some documents (but forgot the passport) to his big buffoon of a boss, Elisha J. Whitney (Joel W. Gossett) who is leaving on the S.S. America the next day as is cabaret entertainer Reno Sweeney (Tracy Lore). Reno is nuts for Billy but Billy is smitten with a young heiress and beauty Hope Harcourt, whom he met in a cab not too long before. Hope, of course is engaged to a stuffy British Nobleman, (but does she love him?) Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, (Nick Tubbs). They are headed to London to wed.
Once aboard to hand his boss the forgotten passport Billy decides to stow away so he can woo Hope. He, along with a sub group of characters with questionable credentials, head out to sea and that’s when the fun begins. It is also here that we meet up with Barry Pearl in the person of Moonface Martin public enemy #13. Both Billy and Moonface dress in disguise so as not to be outed and /or ousted. Now the race to the finish begins as one zany situation replaces another all in the name of love.
In between though, star power kicks in and Jeffrey Scott Parson, perfectly suited for this role, is one charming and talented Billy Crocker. He can dance. He can sing and he can act. And, of course in the end he does get the girl.
Tracy Lore is another experienced talent taking center stage. She has the right look and way about her that convinces. Her Reno Sweeny, evangelist turned cabaret singer’ is a set up for a perfect scene for her “Blow Gabriel, Blow” in one of the showstopper/production numbers done to perfection. Her duo with Pearl in “Friendship” is another that solidifies the pair as top-notch performers.
Pearl is such a pro and oh! so funny as ‘the funny man’ in this production. He gets all the bigger-than-life gags and he is more than up to the task. He is just what the doctor ordered to inject some loony tune humor since ‘anything goes’ aboard this luxury liner. His side kick Erma (Hannah Balagot) adds the needed female touch and she hits the jackpot with more comic relief and tap to envy.
Courtney Fero’s Hope has the right talent as the sought-after blonde beauty (“Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye”) and Dagmar Krause Fields is perfect as the overbearing mother. Nick Tubbs is appropriately stuffy as Lord Evelyn and Mayzie Grace (Cheeky the dog) is very well-behaved albeit somewhat puzzled by all the comings and goings.
Musical Director Justin Gray and conductor Kenneth Gammie and the Moonlight Orchestra highlight Porter’s music, although at times the brass section felt too loud.
If tapping is your number, and you’re eyes will pop at as the crew, passengers and Sweeny taps its way to Anything Goes, head out to Vista and see some of the very best of it.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Wed- Sun. nights, through Sept. 8th
Organization: Moonlight Stage Productions
Production Type: Musical
Where: 1200 Vale terrace Drive, Vista
Ticket Prices: $15.00-$50.00
Davis is a San Diego-based theatre critic. She may be contacted at email@example.com
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=30696