‘Anything Goes’ is a musical written and composed by Cole Porter. It was one of the longest-running musicals of the 1930s and the most produced musical from that decade. On Nov. 9, ‘Anything Goes’ had its Claire Trevor School of the Arts premiere in the Irvine Barclay Theatre and will run until Nov. 17. Director Don Hill did a great job of making ‘Anything Goes’ not just a stage musical but also an experience. Before the show started, the cast interacted with the audience, asking audience members if they were boarding the ship and where they were going. Standing above everyone on a staircase was graduate student Nathan C. Crocker as the captain. The whole experience set the audience up for what would be a magical night of theatre. Walking into the theater, scenic designer Amy C. Maier’s beautiful set pops out and grabs your attention. Clouds and the sky can be seen in the background illuminating the blue ship on the stage. Hill describes the show as, ‘Originally written as a star vehicle.’ The actors in this production are definitely stars bringing the audience in for the ride. It seems as though every performer on stage has a shining moment.
The actor with most such moments is Jeffrey Benson Parker as the Englishman Evelyn Oakleigh. His English accent is reminiscent of Stewie from ‘Family Guy.’ He takes his accent and plays it to the max. This, mixed with the foolish nature of his character, provides unbelievable results whenever he is on stage.
Two crowd favorites are Michael Doonan as Moonface Martin and the always-excellent Nylda Mark as Mrs. Harcourt. As the show goes on it is easy to see that Doonan is meant to play the role of Public Enemy 13. His awkward facial expressions match perfectly with his hysterically spastic and violent character. Mark takes her role as the elder Harcourt and runs with it. She demonstrates her knack for physical comedy, since her funniest moments are those without lines or a simple, drawn-out ‘Nooooo.’ There is a point where she seems to be close to laughing and breaking character but it makes little difference, as the audience is too busy laughing with her. Every musical number in ‘Anything Goes’ is spectacular. The famous song ‘De-Lovely’ is romantically performed, with The title song and finale of Act I have a tap dancing number that causes the audience to start cheering and applauding before it is even finished. A nod should be given to choreographer Heather Castillo for this and the rest of the dance numbers. She didn’t go easy on the performers and the work paid off. Led by musical director and conductor Daniel Gary Busby, the singing and the orchestra meet near perfection. The shining voices are that of the three leading ladies, Julia Goretsky as Reno Sweeney, Deidre Haren as Hope Harcourt and Ashley Moniz as Bonnie. All three of these women excel during their solos, showing off their beautiful and powerful voices. Goretsky in particular leads the show-stopping ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’ with ease. The finale of ‘Anything Goes’ includes bits and pieces from the show’s different musical numbers. For a play as hectic and extravagant as ‘Anything Goes,’ it held together extremely well.