OGDEN — Weber State University’s performance of Anything Goes is a witty combination of slapstick humor, unlikely romance, and colorful scenery, all set to the swinging tunes of the beloved Cole Porter. The musical is directed by Jim Christian.
The stage is set on a luxurious cruise liner, and the audience discovers the relationships and mishaps of the passengers aboard. There’s the famous temptress Reno Sweeney (played by Kalyn West), who happens to be in love with Billy Crocker (Addison Welch), the aspiring Wall Street businessman, who’s heart has been captured by the debutant Hope Harcourt (Stephanie Purcell). Hope, though, is engaged to the wealthy Englishman Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Trevor Dean), whom she doesn’t have feelings for. Also aboard the ship is the conniving gangster Moonface Martin (Rick Rea), and his sassy sidekick Erma (Emilie Starr). The cast of characters goes on and on, but we as an audience we become most engaged by these few. The audience is led along in the plotting, antics, and follies of these characters, and it’s all set to some really great songs.
Choreographed and directed by Jim Christian, this show’s dancing can’t be beat. The hit song “You’re the Top,” sung by Reno and Billy was a favorite. The combination of them bouncing across the stage and acting out the lyrics is fantastic. Another great number is the show’s title piece “Anything Goes.” The whole cast taps and sings, and the result is electricity that easily transfers to the audience. The choreography and movement is appropriate to the 1940’s theme, and the audience is transported to that time period. The only number that was a bit painful to watch was the “It’s De-Lovely” dance with Hope and Billy. It seemed as if they didn’t know the steps very well, and the lifts were awkward to watch. Their confidence seemed a bit shaky on opening night, but will likely be polished in the next few weeks.
Van Tinkham’s scenery for the musical is colorful and fun. The deck of the ship with its many levels adds interest to the staging, and completely spins on its axis to reveal the cabin rooms of the passengers. The costumes (created by Katrina Dransfield), are creative and appropriate to the diverse personalities of the characters.
Cole Porter’s songs were fantastic, and the cast was vocally was quite impressive. I enjoyed every number that West was in. She steals the show with her amazing dance skills and beautiful singing voice. Rea’s song “Be Like the Bluebird” has the audience rolling with laughter, as his comedic timing is impeccable. Welch’s songs, such as “Easy to Love,” make him the obvious heartthrob of the show, and Purcell’s smooth soprano makes her the ideal love interest for him. One can’t forget Trevor Dean, as his impression of the English dainty Lord Oakleigh is unbelievably hilarious, and his number “The Gypsy in Me” is marvelous.
This show is definitely a must-see, although there were moments when the 8-piece orchestra was lacking. One wishes there was a whole “big band” in order to do Cole Porter’s music justice. If you’re looking for a fun and entertaining couple of hours where you can’t help but smile big, and tap your foot, then this is the musical for you.