Cole Porter’s Anything Goes is a show that is equal parts silliness, slapstick, and shenanigans. The Little Theatre of Alexandria opened the old classic this past weekend to a sold-out house. With over 80 years of theater under its belt, LTA is a cherished establishment in the community. Many members of the audience had seen all of the community theater’s seven-show season and there was an overall sense of familiarity, family, and pride as people exited the theater.
Stefan Sittig directed and choreographed this production. The entire show takes place on board of the SS America; Jim Hutzler and Jeff Nesmeyer were in charge of set design, which consisted of a very impressive looking deck of the ship. Sound design was by, lighting design was by Ken and Patti Crowley, and costumes were designed by Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley. As usual, the design at LTA was exceptional.
Anything Goes follows a group characters as they journey from New York to London, England on an ocean liner. They are all very round characters, making them easy to love and even easier to laugh at when they make fools of themselves and each other, which happens anytime you blink during this show.
There’s the ingénue, Hope Harcourt, played by Tori Garcia and the young Wall Street broker in love with her, Billy Crocker, played by Marshall Cesana. All would be well and good with these love birds if not for the pesky problem of Hope’s somewhat bland and even more oblivious fiancé, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, played by James Maxted. Maxted is adorably goofy, as the ridiculous Oakleigh. Many a joke is made at his expense but he’s such a good natured old chap that he simply laughs right along.
These three on the same boat sounds like trouble enough, but the love triangle is only the tip of the iceberg. To complicate matters, also on board are Mrs. Wadsworth T. Harcourt (Allie Cesana), Hope’s mother who is set on her daughter marrying into money, and Elisha J. Whitney (Dick Reed), Billy’s boss who thinks Billy is back at the office working on an important deal.
But all is not lost as Billy has backup, to help him hide from his boss and win the girl, in the unlikely form of “Public Enemy No. 13” Moonface Martin (Ken Kemp) and his girlfriend, Bonnie (Jacqueline Salvador). These two are a hilarious match and it’s clear who wears the pants and has the brains of the duo (hint: it’s not Martin). Salvador is sassy and sexy and owns every scene she’s in.
Coming to Billy’s aid are also the famous nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney played by Mara Stewart, and her Angels: Chastity (Ashley Kaplan), Purity (Katie Mallory), Virtue (Elizabeth Spilsbury), and Charity (Caitlyn Goerner). Reno is a huge personality and Stewart nails the role with ease; she runs the ship (and the show) with commanding presence and an incredible voice.
Reno has several excellent numbers but “Let’s Misbehave,” her hilarious duet with Oakleigh, is wonderfully charming and fun. And “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” is blown out if the water and is the showstopper.
Musical Director Francine Krasowska has done a great job stacking the show with vocal strength. Everybody loves a good Cole Porter song and the harmonies in the Act 1 finale “Anything Goes” and the Act 2 starter, “Public Enemy Number One” are beautiful.
I would have preferred a faster pace than what I saw at my performance because Anything Goes is light-hearted, has a silly plot and the nature of the comedy. But Stewart, Salvador, Kemp, and Maxted, as well as others in the cast, were great at driving the pace forward and keeping the energy up.
Fans of the show, and Cole Porter, would be pleased with LTA’s most recent entertaining production of Anything Goes. The show was met with an enthusiastic audience. The Little Theatre of Alexandria is clearly a community treasure.
Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.