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Review: ANYTHING GOES at Seacoast Repertory Theatre

Set sail for musical fun.

Review: ANYTHING GOES at Seacoast Repertory Theatre

Review: ANYTHING GOES at Seacoast Repertory Theatre

While the Seacoast Repertory Theatre has mounted contemporary musical productions in recent years, none resonate more on the Portsmouth stage than the timeless, classic, and vintage shows from the heydays of Broadway.

The current production of Cole Porter's, Anything Goes, fits that bill to a tee with mind blowing tap dance routines, both melodic and soaring vocals, and the enthusiastic talents of a great ensemble cast.

Anything Goes brings audiences back to a time when characters were larger than life, the comedy both corny and campy, and the plot line so outrageous and twisted you need a scorecard to keep track of exactly who is who.

When the ship, S.S. American heads out to sea from New York City to Britain, there is love in the air, along with a bit of intrigue and extortion. But all is not clear sailing when mistaken identities and ill-fated loves take center stage.

There is a three-way romantic plot centering on young debutant, Hope Harcourt (Delaney Lynch) caught between her nervous aristocrat fiancé, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Tobin Moss) and her young American heart throb, Billy Crocker (Sam Robert Rogers). Hope's mother, Evangeline Harcourt (Jennifer Bubriski) is thrilled that her daughter is marrying into money and is unaware of Crocker's pining for her daughter. Hope is torn between fulfilling her mother's wishes or following her own heart.

Moonface Martin (Joshua Lapierre) is a criminal on the lam disguised as a minister who is distraught that his rank of notoriety places him only as public enemy #13. His moll, Erma (Shaina Schwartz) is the perfect criminal foil who single handedly romances the entire crew of sailors. Eli Whitney (Brett W. Mallard) is a Wall Street magnate, and alcohol guzzling sot, looking to escape some shady investments and find love at sea.

When stage performer turned evangelist, Reno Sweeney (played by last minute understudy, Andrea Lyons) boards ship with her bevy of beauties, Purity, Chastity, Charity and Virtue, the song and dance numbers sail forward, non-stop.

There is always a nervousness in the theater when it is announced that an understudy is joining the cast for a performance. The tension is even greater when the understudy is taking on a lead role. Such was the case when artistic director, Ben Hart announced that Andrea Lyons would take on the lead role of Reno Sweeney.

From the first notes of her number "I Get a Kick Out of You," Lyons proved that she was clearly driving the ship in this production. Every nuance of the bold and brassy Sweeney was in place, and she owned the role with a spectacular performance. Her vocals are powerful, and she commands attention center stage in the show stopping numbers, "Anything Goes," and "Blow, Gabriel, Blow." And as for the dance numbers, it shows that Lyons is a dance teacher and choreographer of note.

Rogers completely embodies the role of Billy Crocker, and shines wonderfully in the melodic numbers, "Easy to Love" and "It's De-Lovely." He is quite a dancer too and has exceptionally great timing in his madcap scenes.

Lynch is perfectly cast as Hope, the star-crossed lover and she gives a wonderful rendition of "Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye." (And about that number, while I appreciate the rapid fire set changes required for such a large show in a compact theater, is there a reason the stage needs to be cleared before Lynch finishes the last verse of her song?)

Comedy runs rampant with a powerful ensemble cast. Lapierre is the perfect criminal, more loveable than evil. Mallard is the perfect curmudgeon; more loveable the less sober. Their comic timing and mug shots are just right as they relish their moments in these delicious roles.

Moss wonderfully sheds his upper crust persona with his true confession number, "The Gypsy in Me," and Schwartz, who I'd love to see in other Seacoast performances, struts her stuff boldly in "Buddie, Beware."

Bubriski, with a slew of New England theater credits, has fun as the pompous mother of the bride.

The ensemble exudes the joy of a live theater performance as they dance their hearts out. There are lots of hours of sweat and tears to make massive tap numbers look easy.

First time mainstage director at Seacoast, Jason Faria, manages to pull together this massive production into an extraordinary evening of entertainment. The one thing to say about this theater is that no detail is left untouched. From the expansive set in the stadium seating theater, to the period specific costuming, and even the stage painted to look like planks on a cruise ship, Seacoast goes all out to create the magic of theater.

Music director, William Asher plays Cole Porter with punch and pizzazz and the sound balance between vocals and orchestra is perfect. (Where exactly is that wonderful orchestra located?)

The show runs through July 23. Set sail and enjoy.

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From This Author - Dan Marois

It was his time growing up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where Dan Marois “got the bug” for theater and entertainment. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Boston University... (read more about this author)

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