Review: ANYTHING GOES at TexArts

A top-tapping musical extravaganza, now sailing aboard the S.S. America through June 30th!

By: Jun. 10, 2024
Review: ANYTHING GOES at TexArts
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Anything Goes sets sail with effervescent charm and boundless energy, reaffirming why Cole Porter’s classic musical remains a beloved staple of the theatre. This vibrant production aboard the SS American perfectly blends romance, comedy, and dazzling musical numbers, delivering an unforgettable evening of entertainment.

Based on songs by the great Cole Porter, the musical is a collaborative effort between Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, heavily revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. This masterful comedy is a mashup of gangster movies, screwball comedy, and social satire, set aboard the SS American where, away from laws and civilization, anything goes.

The story follows nightclub singer/evangelist Reno Sweeney as she sails from New York to England on a luxury ocean liner. Her friend Billy Crocker has stowed away to be near his love, debutante Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh to save her family from ruin. Joining this love triangle are Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, and his sidekick Erma. With elaborate disguises, tap-dancing sailors, and good old-fashioned blackmail, Reno and Martin join forces to help Billy win Hope’s heart.

Anything Goes may be old-fashioned, but it is also strikingly radical. The passengers aboard the SS American reflect our enduring tendency to turn criminals into celebrities and transform religion into showbiz—an inclination that has persisted for nearly a century. The story's religious, financial, and sexual themes create a platform for characters like gangsters, preachers, nobility, and singers to satirize societal realities. The clever lyrics and lavish musical numbers offer sharp commentary on contrasts between Brits and Yanks, rich and poor, non-believers and evangelists, and deception and confessions. By intermission, nearly every character is revealed as a phony hiding behind a social mask. By the final curtain, most characters have shed their societal disguises and chosen happiness over wealth.

At the heart of the production is the charismatic Billy Crocker, portrayed with infectious enthusiasm by the talented MacLain Dassatti. Dassatti captures Billy’s earnestness and charm, bringing a winning combination of boyish optimism and slapstick humor to the role. His performance in numbers like “You’re the Top” and “Easy to Love” showcases both his vocal prowess and his knack for physical comedy, making Billy a thoroughly endearing protagonist.

Opposite Billy is the elegant debutante Hope Harcourt, played with grace and poise by Alicia Frias Escobar. Their onstage chemistry is palpable in the number "It's De-Lovely".

Reno Sweeney, embodied by the magnetic Lariena Armstrong, is a nightclub singer and evangelist with a heart of gold and a flair for the dramatic. In the show-stopping “Anything Goes,” Armstrong sizzles with energy and charisma.

Review: ANYTHING GOES at TexArts
MacLain Dassatti as Billy Crocker and Lariena Armstrong as Reno Sweeney
Anything Goes at TexArts
PC: April Paine Photography

Matt Kennedy delivers an outstanding performance as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Hope's aristocratic but bumbling fiancé. In the number “The Gypsy in Me,” Kennedy fully embraces the character's eccentricities with impeccable comedic timing and over-the-top physicality. 

Review: ANYTHING GOES at TexArts
Alicia Frias Escobar as Hope Harcourt and Matt Kennedy as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh
Anything Goes at TexArts
PC: April Paine Photography

The ensemble cast adds to the magic, delivering intricate dance numbers choreographed with precision and flair. The tap routines are particularly impressive, with the cast moving in perfect harmony to Porter’s timeless melodies. Standout performances include Gregory Price as the bumbling Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, Claire Baillie as the sultry and mischievous Erma, and the trio of young sailors (Brandon Barksdale, Jake Lieder, and Jack Roden) who shine in many scenes with their mad dancing and singing skills.

Rounding up the cast are Kirk Kelso as Elisha Whitney, Mary Cox as Evangeline Harcourt, Josh Kok as Spit, Samuel Morales as Dippy, Creighton Moench as Captain, AJ Reyes as Purser, Carrigan Young as Purity, Calire Sarman as Chastity, Reghan Mayo as Charity, TaTyana Smith as Virtue, and Bruce Wayne Neary as Minister.

Review: ANYTHING GOES at TexArts
The cast of Anything Goes at TexArts
PC: April Paine Photography

In this timeless classic, the music steals the show. Cole Porter's enduring melodies, including favorites like "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top," and the titular "Anything Goes," are brought to life with zest and gusto. The orchestra swings with infectious energy, transporting the audience back to the glitz and glamour of the 1930s.

Of course, no production of Anything Goes would be complete without its signature dance numbers. Choreographed with precision and panache by Chris Shin, the ensemble dazzles with their fancy footwork and effortless grace. Whether it's a tap-dancing extravaganza or a sultry combination, each dance sequence is a showstopper in its own right.

The set, designed by Theada Haining, cleverly makes use of TexArts' new home at 1120 Ranch Road 620, transforming the spacious stage into a luxurious 1930s ocean liner, complete with staircases, cabins, and a dance floor. The costumes (Tyler Soares) capture the glamour and sophistication of the era.

Under the direction of Chris Shin, TexArts' production of Anything Goes not only pays homage to Cole Porter’s genius but also brings fresh vitality to the classic material. Audiences are sure to leave the theatre humming and smiling, buoyed by the sheer joy of the experience.

All aboard! If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, don’t wait—the show was sold out on its opening weekend.


Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter

Original Book by P/G/ Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse

New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman

Directed and Choreographed by Chris Shin

Music Directed by Megan Pritchett

TexArts production of Anything Goes was adapted from the 1987 Broadway Revival, originally produced by Lincoln Center Theater.

TexArts “New Building”

1110 Ranch Road 620 S, Lakeway, TX 78734

Runs through to June 30th, 2024

Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm

Sundays at 2:00 pm


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