Critic's PickSome contemporary theatergoers bemoan today’s lack of tuneful musicals. That’s because of shows like Cole Porter’s 1934 hit, Anything Goes, currently at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Roughly 30 performers (few Broadway musicals today could afford a cast that large) perform tunes that have been standards for decades: “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Let’s Misbehave” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” will be stuck in your head for days if you go.
CCM is a rare university to pull off a production like this. The multi-level ocean-liner set, designed by Brian Ruggaber, and the period costumes by grad student Dominique Rhea Glaros perfectly conjure the era of trans-Atlantic crossings.
Glaros has used a muted palette that’s just right for the posh folks (and wannabes) aboard the S.S. American. For those who love dancing, choreographer Patti James keeps the ensemble sashaying and tapping from start to finish and director Ashton Byrum assembles great stage pictures for the implausible tales of comic intrigue featuring clownish rich folks, officious crew, laughable crooks and secret loves.
The cast is led by Lexie Dorsett as nightclub singer Reno Sweeney; her earthy, expressive voice is perfect for the role. Beau Landry Jr. brings a fresh-faced cleverness as Billy Crocker, an opportunistic fellow trying to win the heart of young socialite Hope Harcourt, played with a blend of innocence and morality by Lauren Sprague. Matt Densky is a comic sparkplug as Public Enemy No. 13, Moonface Martin, and Julie Kavanaugh is Bonnie, his saucy accomplice. Carlyn Connolly is Hope’s starchy mother, and Chris Timson plays the prissy British fiancé, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh. Most roles are stereotypes, but that’s part of the fun.
Opening night had a few sound problems, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the audience for this delightful production.
ANYTHING GOES, presented by the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, continues through March 7. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.