BWW Reviews: Hamilton Music Academy Presents the Joyous Cole Porter Musical Comedy ANYTHING GOES!
The Academy of Music at Hamilton High School, winner of the L.A. Music Center's Bravo Award, presents ANYTHING GOES!, the classic musical comedy filled with well-loved songs by Cole Porter, blazing tap dance numbers and madcap antics aboard an ocean liner traveling from New York to London. The show has a special tie to the Tony Award-winning 2011 Broadway revival as it starred Hamilton High alumnus Joel Grey as Moonface Martin. The Academy of Music at Hamilton High School production - which will mark the 80th anniversary of the musical's original 1934 debut - is directed and choreographed by Chelsea Field; the vocal director is Kelci Hahn; and the orchestra director is Jim Foschia.
The Hamilton Music Academy is blessed with one of the few remaining full auditoriums within Los Angeles City Schools, complete with wings that allow large set pieces to be moved on and off the stage. John Paul Luckenbach's set pieces appear to be easily and quickly moved by cast members, incorporating the changes into the show itself which kept the place flowing along at a steady pace thanks to Chelsea Field's direction.
As a former high school Drama teacher, I am happy to support the Hamilton High Academy of Music as I can appreciate all the work that goes into putting on a production of this caliber, including a full orchestra and a double cast lead role. The night I attended, the remarkable Gabi Nail played Reno Sweeny, singing and tapping up a storm with a smile and personality that lit up the stage - enhanced by some of the best sparkly costumes I have seen in a long time, designed by Kim Overton.
With music and lyrics by Cole Porter, and book by Guy Bolton & P.G. Wodehouse and Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, ANYTHING GOES! takes place aboard the fictitious ocean liner S.S. American. Billy Crocker (Noah Mayer) is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt (Charlotte Robinson), who is engaged to the stuffy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Jordan Segell), on their way to England to get marred. Evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Gabi Nail sharing the role with Emma Griffone) and second-rate gangster Moonface Martin (Evan Dye), a.k.a. Public Enemy #13, aid Billy in his quest to win Hope.
Along the way, we are treated to many wonderful songs including "It's Delovely," "You're the Top," "Let's Misbehave" and "I Get a Kick Out of You." Especially spectacular is the Act I closing number "Anything Goes" which includes outrageous tapping by the entire company. The number is brilliantly choreographed and the cast has a riotous good time with it - and so will you.And I must commend the lovely young ladies who sing and tap back-up to Reno Sweeny for their joie de vivre onstage: Mia Bensimon (Purity), Myko Lyric Campbell (Charity), Natalie Edelstein (Patience), Hannah Knoll (Destiny), Madison Nelson (Virtue), and Ali Yankelevitz (Chastity).
The Academy of Music at Hamilton High School has earned numerous awards and honors over the years, including Best School Program at the Los Angeles Music Center's 2010 Bravo Awards and numerous National Youth Theater Awards. Last year's production of ONCE UPON A MATTRESS earned no less than six wins at the highly competitive National Youth Theatre Awards, including Outstanding Production, Best Lead Actress in a Musical, Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, Best Ensemble, Best Choreography and Best Musical Direction. It would not surprise me if ANYTHING GOES! wins many of the same awards this year.
ANYTHING GOES! has ten performances run over three weekends:
Thurs., Feb. 6 @ 7:00 p.m. | Fri., Feb. 7 @ 8:00 p.m. | Sat., Feb. 8 @ 8:00 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 14 @ 8:00 p.m. | Sat., Feb. 15 @ 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 20 @ 7:00 p.m. | Fri., Feb. 21 @ 8:00 p.m. | Sat., Feb. 22 @ 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Thursday nights & matinees: Adults at the door $20, in advance online $15; students & seniors $10. Friday and Saturday nights: Adults at the door $25, in advance online $20; students & seniors $15. Shows run at Norman J. Pattiz Auditorium at Hamilton High School, 2955 S. Robertson Blvd. (just north of Venice and National Blvds.), Los Angeles, CA 90034.
For more information, and to directly choose seats online, visit www.HamiltonMusic.org and click the Anything Goes! items on the right-side calendar.