Review: ANYONE CAN WHISTLE at Theatre Off Jackson

Fresh, spunky, and wildly entertaining.

By: Mar. 10, 2024
Review: ANYONE CAN WHISTLE at Theatre Off Jackson
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Review: ANYONE CAN WHISTLE at Theatre Off Jackson
Miles Wingett and Cynthia Dario-Good in 
Anyone Can Whistle at Theatre Off Jackson.
Photo Credits: Colin Madison Photography

It takes a special group of actors and a stellar production crew to turn a show infamously known as one of Stephen Sondheim's biggest “flops” into a hit. Luckily for Seattle audiences, Reboot Theatre has opened a fresh, spunky, and wildly entertaining production of Anyone Can Whistle. Hilariously directed by Jasmine Joshua, the chaos-filled show is now playing at Theatre Off Jackson. 

Anyone Can Whistle celebrates nonconformity, introducing the audience to a small economically depressed town and a Mayoress with an agenda to ensure everyone loves her, despite the lack of effort she puts into trying. To increase town morale and funding, the Mayoress arranges a fake miracle to attract tourists. Unfortunately for her, but fortunately for us, the tourists start to mingle and mix with the inmates of the local Cookie Jar, an asylum for the town's non-conformists. As you can imagine, that doesn’t go very well. 

Only nine performances graced the stage during its original 1965 Broadway run before the curtain closed and it’s easy to ask, “Why does anyone put up this show anymore?” The answer - context. The 1960s were a time of expected conformity, with a white picket fence ideal motivating the most powerful members of the community. 

Reboot Theatre does a phenomenal job of identifying the zeitgeist of the production, explicitly recognizing how a show such as this offers a timely commentary on mental health struggles and how stigmatized they can become. In their Director’s note, Joshua speaks to this, “What are the things we do to make ourselves more palatable for society? How do we hide that likely everyone is, in some respect, a Cookie?”

In addition to quite a few puppets, the story is told by Shana Emile (Cora Hoover Hooper), Anamaria Guerzon (Fay Apple), Rhys Daly (J. Bowden Hapgood), David Breyman (Dr. Detmold), June Apollo Johns (Comptroller Schub), Robin Lagenhop (Treasurer Cooley), Max Lopuszynski (Chief Magruder), along with a tight-knit ensemble comprised of Kate Connors, Cynthia Dario-Good, Mariesa Genzale (Dance Captain), HK Goldstein, Paris Manzanares, Pyper, Malex Reed, and Miles Wingett.

This 16-person cast works together extremely well. It was hard for the audience to stay quiet with a laughter-invoking delivery every beat.

Review: ANYONE CAN WHISTLE at Theatre Off Jackson
Shana Emile and Rhys Daly in 
Anyone Can Whistle at Theatre Off Jackson.
Photo Credits: Colin Madison Photography

Playing a role originally portrayed by the iconic Angela Lansbury is no easy feat, but it's clear that Shana Emile was more than up for the task. Our Mayoress is a completely unique character, and Emile’s every moment is precisely intentioned, wonderfully comedic, and strangely human. Though her tactics aren’t always logical, it’s clear her intentions are sound (to her). Emile possesses a beautifully smooth, standout voice and paired with her unmistakable acting skills, she’s one to watch.

Anamaria Guerzon’s portrayal of the complicated and multi-faced Fay Apple was a clear crowd favorite. Guerzon’s ability to hop from a stern voice of reason to an unconfident nurse earned gracious applause every time they hit the final note of each beautifully sung piece. Their delivery of the titular song felt time-stopping, and we were lucky that happened a couple of times. As their bio notes, this is their first musical since graduating college, which is hard to believe.

The third standout of the night was Rhys Daly in his portrayal of the mysterious but compelling Hapgood. From Daly, we receive an impressively agile rendition of the mind-bender of a song that is “Simple.” The confidence that Daly exudes aids his delivery of the character that leaves us continually guessing about his intentions, but still finding ourselves intrigued. Tackling another one of Sondheim's famed songs, Daly delivers an outstanding interpretation of “Everybody Says Don’t.”

Our characters play on a colorful and fun cardboard cut-out set by Scenic Design/Lead Carpenter Garrett Dill that can be easily changed and manipulated by our characters. Costume Designer Krista Lofgren dresses our town characters in simple one or two-tone outfits, juxtaposing the town citizens from the Mayoress who is lavishly dressed in expensive-appearing coats on top of dresses doused in sparkles. 

Lighting and Sound Designers Jacob Viramontes and Kairon Bullock assist the comedic efforts of the show, amplifying the humorous beats with equally humorous lighting moments and sound bytes.

This is a complicated and sometimes hard-to-follow show, and I have a feeling it will only get tighter and more impressive as the run goes on. If you want to go in with a little bit of clarity, I’d recommend reading a thorough plot synopsis. If you like to be surprised and prefer hefty confusion while enjoying your art, go in blind. Either way, I’d recommend this show to anyone looking for some quirky, timely, and ultimately fun entertainment. 

Anyone Can Whistle runs from now until March 23 at Theatre Off Jackson. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit:


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