"Anything Goes" Amuses At Annapolis Summer Garden
By Dylan Roche
The 47th season of Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre recently set sail with a production of Cole Porters Anything Goes, which opened May 24. The lively musical follows a comical romp across the Atlantic full of mistaken identities, blackmail, intrigue, singing sailors and lots of laughs. Local theatre veteran Jerry Vess direction brought the classic show to the stage in a way never before been seen. Music direction by Ruth Capobianco, plus choreography by Hannah Thornhill (who is also a member of the cast) ensure Porters songs are dynamic and memorable. The wholly enjoyable musical made a successful opener to ASGTs new season.
Although Anything Goes debuted on Broadway nearly 80 years ago, contemporary audiences shouldnt be apprehensive about it the show is anything but stuffy or sentimental. Instead, audiences should anticipate a rather saucy comedy.
Indeed, Anything Goes is an appropriate title for a musical where an audience can expect the unexpected. Alex Trujillo plays Billy Crocker, a Wall Street broker who stows away onboard the S.S. American to pursue a beautiful young woman named Hope Harcourt (played by Katie Gardner). But Hope is an heiress, engaged to be married to Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Jeff Sprague), and she is escorted on the ship by her uptight mother (Kathryn Huston).
But Billy hatches a scheme to capture Hopes attention and win her heart. Adding to the madcap frenzy onboard are gangster Moonface (Nathan Bowen) and his lady friend, Erma (Emily Sergo), as well as Reno (Nicole Anderson), an Evangelist turned nightclub singer who harbors affections for Billy.
Being set aboard a ship, Anything Goes feels like an appropriately Annapolitan production, a feeling which is augmented by ASGTs venue location right on the downtown harbor. The colorful sets and costumes make the show pop with vitality, but it is the performances which make it memorable. Director Vess has assembled an irreplaceable troupe of triple threats who act, sing and dance with refreshing energy.
Leading many of the productions more popular musical numbers -- including I Get a Kick Out of You, Youre the Top, and the title song, Anything Goes Anderson carries a heavy weight on her shoulders as nightclub singer Reno. But she consistently delivers, making a spirited leading lady who is addictive to watch onstage. The other ensemble leads Trujillo, Gardner, Bowen, Sergo, Sprague and Huston all have excellent characterization skills and a well-developed sense of comic timing.
The summer season at ASGT will continue with Avenue Q, opening July 5 and running through July 29. The Tony-winning musical puts actors and puppets onstage alongside one another for a thoroughly hilarious satire. Xanadu, which combines Greek mythology with 1980s California, opens August 9 and runs through September 2.
Tickets can be ordered online at www.summergarden.com.