BWW Review: ANYTHING GOES OPENS AT THE WHITE THEATRE IN KANSAS CITY at White Theatre
Cruise over to the White Theatre for their wonderful production of ANYTHING GOES now playing through November 17. ANYTHING GOES opened on Saturday, November 2 to kick off the 15th season of the theater located at the Jewish Community Center. Tim Bair directs this whimsical musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The original book was by P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton and was heavily revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The new book is by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman.
Written in 1934 featuring the antics of a stow-away, Billy Crocker who is in love with one of the passengers Hope Harcourt, was originally titled CRAZY WEEK and then HARD TO GET before Cole Porter stepped in saying neither title was suitable for the music and the title was changed to ANYTHING GOES. The musical features several songs that became very popular including "Anything Goes", "You're the Top", and "I Get a Kick Out of You".
Kacy Christensen designed the superb choreography for the musical romp that takes place on an ocean liner headed to England. The tap routine performed by Jennifer Renfrow as Reno Sweeney and the ensemble towards the end of the first act rates among the best I've seen this theatrical season.
Besides directing Bair is the Scenic Designer who with the assistance of Kelli Harrod and Justin Dudzik the Scenic Artists masterfully transformed the stage to resemble the deck of a cruise ship. The scenery is so realistic that I felt a little seasick. Fran Kupono-Kuzila did a great job as Costume Designer, with the exception of the captain's costume which took me to nearly the end of the second act to realize he wasn't just wearing a white suit.
There are three particularly stand-out performances, Jennifer Renfrow has a powerful voice and gives a dynamic performance as Reno Sweeny the notorious entertainer who attempts to woe Sir Evelyn, played by Matt Fowler, on behalf of Billy. Guy Gardner provides a fabulous performance as Moonface the criminal element that is number 13 on the most wanted list. Gardner is very animated in his depiction of the character and brings a lot of humor to the role. Ashton Botts portrays Hope Harcourt, the love interest of Billy, and has a magnificent voice and is always a delight to watch. The role of the Purser was played by Jacob Jackson. According to his family, he was originally cast as a sailor and only five days before the opening night was switched to the Purser. He gave an exceptional performance, especially for that short of time to rehearse the part.
D'Andre McKenzie plays Billy Crocker the stowaway. The majority of his performance was lackluster, showing little or no emotion and delivering his lines with little or no enthusiasm. He delivers a song from the jail cell that was off-key and his rendition dull and lifeless. Fortunately, the song was saved when Botts joins in the melody from the top deck. Tom O'Rourke appears as the captain and gives a performance as if he was reading it from a teleprompter.
ANYTHING GOES is very entertaining and well worth the price of a ticket. It continues at the White Theatre through November 17. To purchase tickets online go to www.thewhitetheatre.org.
Photos courtesy of The White Theatre