BWW Reviews: Welk Resorts Theatre Offers a Splashy ANYTHING GOES
Anything Goes is not one of my favorite shows, but it sure does have a fantastic score by Cole Porter and some pretty terrific tapping. It's one of those shows with three book writers, who obviously collaborated with meticulous attention to detail in order to make all the silliness and exasperating plot twists come together, because when you're dealing with farce, one keen eye is never enough. It is, indeed, inane, but Welk Theatre's current production has such marvelous direction from Ray Limon and a super fabulous ensemble, that for the first time in a long time, I came away with a fresh appreciation for the show.
The intimacy of the Welk stage may be one of the reasons that this production is more fun to watch, but it's mostly Limon's frenetic pacing and insistence on his actors' facial/verbal exaggerations that make it work better. 'The bigger and more over.the.top the better; there's Little Room for reality here' - it works. They have also stayed loyal to the original script, which begins on board the S.S. American, rather than the newer 1986 Broadway revival, and that may be another reason for the show's fluidity and delightful zaniness. And this cast is oh so glorious in every way. Natalie Nucci is a dynamic triple threat performer who truly makes Reno Sweeney the top. This evangelist could sure win me over! As her partner in crime Billy Crocker, Josh Carr is a joy to watch, as he charms his way through a variety of character disguises with perfect accents, and boy oh boy, can he sing...and tap. Shaun Leslie Thomas is charming as the goofy Moonface and his partner Bonnie, as played by April Henry, is sheer delight. RC Sands is delicious as Sir Evelyn and his intended Hope Harcourt is given a refreshing spin by Rachel Davis. Ken Salzman makes Whitney wonderfully befuddled and Robin La Valley brings a lot of charisma to the pompous Mrs. Harcourt. The rest of the dynamite 17-member ensemble give a whole new meaning to the phrase just the right pace and make the show move with lots of pizazz! Janet Pitcher has designed some perfectly lovely costumes for one and all.
Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You", "You're the Top", "Easy to Love", "Friendship", "Let's Misbehave", "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", and of course the title song are jubilantly rendered, with a live 5-piece orchestra under the musical direction of Justin Gray.
Go see Anything Goes at Welk Theatre, Escondido through March 23. It has hit written all over it ... you will definitely not be disappointed. Also take advantage of the excellent buffet in the Canyon Grill restaurant for just a few dollars more.