BWW Review: Anoka's Lyric Arts Presents 'it's De-lovely' Anything Goes
Anoka's Lyric Arts Main Street Stage returns this summer with the comedic and uplifting Cole Porter, Guy Bolton, PB Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse musical Anything Goes. First produced in 1934, in the beginning of the Great Depression, Porter's memorable musical questions the country's status quo and then, the course of true love. Eighty two years later, the musical resonates with Porter's evocative lyrics from the title song: Good authors, too/Who once knew better words/ writing prose/ now use four letter words/ Anything goes/ truding in nude parties/ studios / Anything goes/ Why nobody will oppose/ Anything goes.
Porter's awarding winning music and the complementary book and story features three leads-Billy Crocker (Ty Hudson), Reno Sweeney (Jaclyn Jacob) and Hope Harcourt (Elizabeth Cassidy) in a romantic triangle where songs such as ""You're the Top" and "It's De-Lovely" absolutely shine through the theater hearing their heady voices.
The entire musical happens on a cruise ship transformed by a two tiered stage designed by Jocelyn Valazquez, which structurally resembles the numerous places and rooms on board where scenes move seamlessly from deck to stateroom to jail. Director Scott Ford used the scene changes to add fun and fancy choreography to the story line while Lauri Kraft's choreography delights audiences in every number. The three leads accompanied by a live orchestra and accomplished ensemble deliver resounding renditions of Porter favorites---"Anything Goes," "Blow, Gabiriel, Blow" and "I Get A Kick Out of You."
A story partially narrated by the chanteuse Rena Sweeney (a phenomenal Juola), the star discovers Billy Crocker (a handsome Hudson) loves Hope instead of her.....When Hope (who has a lavish, rich voice) finds herself forced to marry the English Lord Evelyn Raeleigh (Kyler Chase) to regain her family's fortune lost in the stock market crash, her heart actually belongs to the young Billy Crocker. Sneaking on board the cruise ship, Billy disguised himself as a famous criminal, Snake Eyes. In one of several show stopping numbers, this one to entertain the passengers, Juola's Sweeney plays to the crowd with her four "angels"--- a chorus that rallies a parody of evangelical singers, and includes Falan Dahl Nuhring, Tara Schaefle, Sommer Walters, Hannah Weinberg-Goerger.
In other scenes, Lord Evelyn prepares for his upcoming nuptials on the ship to the reluctant Hope, a an event where he needs to wear a sword at his side. On this particular weekend run, the news also boasted Texas has considered allowing adults in their state to also carry swords. [July 13, 2017, CNN]. In fact, as this news article posted, "Adults in Texas can openly carry knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches...Swords, spears, daggers, sabers, bowie knives and machetes." While the audience smiles when Lord Evelyn struggles to handle the unwieldy weapon throughout portions of the musical, they might also contemplate another Porter song lyric: "The world has gone made today."
In another comedic and contemporary moment, the ship's passengers lament the lack of any celebrities on the cruise. When the captain (Mark Palmer) seeks to find the two wanted criminals also on board---Billy Crocker disguised and mistaken for Snake Eyes and his compatriot Moonface Martin, an excellent Robert Zelazar, whose female accomplice Erma, a great femme fatale role played by Rachel Hudson, attends to the sailors and stays out of trouble. Upon the discovery of the two criminals, the ship's passengers were thrilled. The Captain immediately celebrates the criminal's celebrity status with champagne and parties. If an event or party lacks movie stars, then criminals can replace them, right? How often do events like this happen more than75 years later...where people who disobey the law reach celebrity status or places of importance in the news?
If any audience member believes Porter's timeless musical might be outdated-think again. While several melodies reflect love and devotion, more were conceived out of despair for a society gone a little mad, the country and world wondering if recovery would be possible after all the debacles of the depression. A time in history when life seemed to unravel and 'anything goes.' Since the Depression lasted until 1939, the country spent nearly a decade in survival mode. Would things ever be better? Fortunately, musicals such as Porter's offered a diversion and comic relief, along with melodies to treasure for an entire century, underscored with a message which can be appreciated today on several levels.
Lyric Arts presents a sparkling--delightful, delicious and de-lovely-evening of theater in their summer production Anything Goes. Laugh, listen, sing a little and watch closely when the audience might hear echoes of the 21st century during every scene in this charming musical. All the while audiences believe and know, as Cole Porter knew--through difficult decades and transitional times, love eventually triumphs.
Lyric Arts Main Street Stage presents Anything Goes at 420 East Main Street, Anoka, through August 6. Following this production run, Always..Patsy Cline opens September 8. For performance schedule or to purchase tickets, please visit www.lyricarts.org.