BWW Review: ANYTHING GOES Is the Top at Hale Orem

BWW Review: ANYTHING GOES Is the Top at Hale Orem

At Hale Center Theater Orem, the performances of ANYTHING GOES are delightful. The direction and choreography: delicious. The costumes: de-lovely. The audience: delirious. The production: da bomb.

And those Cole Porter tunes! "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top," "Friendship" and "Anything Goes" before intermission. And "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" to open Act Two. There are playful lyrics aplenty with enchanting melodies.

HCTO's crew members, aboard the luxury cruise ship or unseen production stowaways, are first-class. (Can I evoke a tired cliché by saying Broadway caliber?)

Like minted classics from the Golden Era, ANYTHING GOES is escapist fare about mismatched lovers and disguised, pretending characters, while skewering ills that plague us today (the celebrity craze, crime and churches.) But who cares how silly it all may be when we wind up with three surprise weddings? ...And you were warned with the show's title.

BWW Review: ANYTHING GOES Is the Top at Hale OremThe gifted Jennifer Hill-Barlow as director-choreographer deeply impresses and brings brilliance to this classic gem. She revels in the show's vaudeville roots through the lively pace, on-target wacky/grounded characterizations and well-executed, zesty dances. There is no-holding-back, effervescent tapping with the skilled chorus and each lead player.

Ashley Gardner Carlson savors the prime role of onetime-evangelist-nightclub-chanteuse Reno Sweeney. She is very appealing with a confident, nonchalance casualness, both her performance and her blow-off-the-roof vocals. And the babe can dance! There's Astaire and Rogers elegance with the equally impressive, golden-throated Jared Young as Reno's old pal, stockbroker Billy Crocker, in "You're the Top." With many HCTO roles, Young was last seen on this stage as Jimmy in the Audra McDonald and Will Swenson-led "110 in the Shade," returning after roles in New York City.

The secondary characters are great fun with sharp comic caricatures. Jaymie Lambson is stunning as the spirited Hope Harcourt; dreamy with Young in "All Through the Night." Wade Robert Johnson performs with panache as Moonface Martin, a gangster fleeing the law by pretending to be a priest, with the cleverly staged "Be Like the Bluebird." The hilarious Zoë Wilde is simply smashing as gangster floozy Erma LaTour.

Justin Bills shows fine work as Music Director.

There is opulent excellence ween in the saturated colors and sequins ablaze in the credited costume production management by HCTO first-timer Peter Terry. The hats and the dresses with capes are to-die-for. In tandem with Terry is Cole McClure, who also deserves praise for the costume and set design, along with his work for sound and technical direction.

Like a bolt from the blue: HCTO's ANYTHING GOES has everything you'd want from a frothy musical. There's bliss in this buoyant staging.

PHOTOS: Suzy Oliviera

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From This Author Blair Howell

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