BWW Reviews: Audiences Get a Kick Out of ANYTHING GOES
Apparently, anything goes at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto. Visit this stunning building this weekend and you'll find glimpses of "something shocking" as friendly ushers and ticketing staff welcome you, comfortable seats provide you with the perfect view and a standout orchestra begins playing that fantastic overture to the Cole Porter classic, "Anything Goes." But that's not all that goes at the Gallo Center this weekend. Modesto Performing Arts has gathered a stellar cast and crew to create an animated and "delovely" musical that, in the words one of its more popular songs, is the top! Its patriotic set colors and costumes also make it the perfect show to celebrate the 4th of July holiday week.
Director Paul F. Tischer creates a fresh version of the musical that won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical last year. The show follows Billy Crocker as he goes through a load of "anything" in an attempt to win back the woman he loves, including dressing in multiple disguises and stowing away on the ship his beloved Hope Harcourt has just boarded with a fiancé she does not love and who happens to be much older than her.
The fiancé, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, brings with him an English fortune, but also several interesting personality traits, which actor Otto Coelho plays off of brilliantly with his character's hilarious little book full of American idioms. One family trait, in particular, is enough to surprise Reno Sweeney, the popular singer who gives regular "sermons" complete with revealing costumes and four lovely backup "angels." Colleen Hawks brings the magic of Broadway to MPA's production. Having performed in a touring version of "Anything Goes" that starred Chita Rivera, as well as performed on Broadway next to Hugh Jackman, Hawks' vocals and acting are a consistent highlight of the show.
Natalie Cleek, too, lights up the stage as Hope Harcourt, with her bright facial expressions and gorgeous gowns. Charles Osborne stars next to her as Billy Crocker. It's easy to understand why any girl would fall for Osborne as the character. He fits the whims and fancies of his character perfectly, and his dancing is pretty sharp, too. If Osborne continues to impress as much as he does in this production, he will, no doubt, make it all the way to Broadway. He's already lined up to perform in "The Producers" the Hollywood Bowl later this year.
Other highlights of the Modesto Performing Arts production include local favorite Grace Lieberman as Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt, Hope's money-obsessed, sometimes unstable mother. Ray Leverett plays opposite Lieberman as Elisha Whitney, Billy's boss prone to drinking alcohol. Ray Rustigian plays a warm and friendly gangster, and Rachel Anne Pearre plays the "dumb blonde" of the production to perfection. The show also features a beautiful quartet from "sailors" Paul Jackson, Daniel Moody, Justin Dale Roe and JoNathan Smith.
While the show's chorus does not provide consistently strong vocals and the show's comedic timing lags a little at the start, MPA's production promises an entertaining time with nonstop occasion for laughter, fantastic choreography and impressive leads that will have audiences humming tunes and singing praises long after the curtain goes down. Yes, they will definitely have reason to say, "I Get a Kick Out of You."
Modesto Performing Arts
Saturday, July 7 - 2:00PM, 7:30PM
Sunday, July 8 - 2:00PM