Bob Goepfert - “Anything Goes” at Proctors Theatre
It is hard to think of any musical with a better score than “Anything Goes.” It’s just as difficult to think of a cast who might perform those numbers better than those in the national tour playing at Proctors through Sunday.
This revival, which originated at Roundabout Theatre in New York City, is a happy musical that entertains and delights with great Cole Porter masterpieces. It opens with “I Get a Kick Out Of You” and follows with classics like “Easy to Love,” “Friendship,” “It’s De-Lovely” and “All Through the Night.”
With this rich score it’s odd that the only two exciting numbers are the show stopping title song and the big “Blow Gabriel Blow” number. “Anything Goes,” (the only tap number in the show) doesn’t come until the end of the first act, and even the second act production number, “Blow Gabriel Blow,” though vibrant, seemed restrained.
Not that any of the songs were performed poorly. This is a talent-rich cast and each major character had a solo number that was a spotlight piece. The performances just seemed very perfunctory. Indeed the entire show seems sedate.
The same goes for the talent. Rachael York is fantastic as Reno Sweeney, but her interpretation makes the character who was written to be bigger-than-life is more sophisticated than earthy. However, York is a remarkable talent who can belt the heck out of any song and make it seem sexy rather than bawdy. Her acting, singing, comic timing and excellent dancing carries the show.
In fact, she is so appealing you wonder why the hero Billy Crocker (Josh Franklin) ignores her for the insipid Hope (Vanessa Sonon). He is a good singer; she is a fine dancer. However, neither projects enough personality for the audience to care about their thwarted romance.
Though the romantic core of the fragile story is empty, the convoluted story is filled with laughter thanks to a superior cast that makes the book-heavy show fun.
This is a production that is stocked with performers who probably have a cumulative total of a million years on the road. Indeed, you have to be impressed with a company that includes veteran Chuck Wagner playing the small role of the ship’s captain. This means even minor roles are played by performers who maximize the humor in every scene. This is one of the best supporting casts to play Proctors in quite a while.
Fred Applegate’s comical timing, beaming personality and poise as the criminal Moonface Martin is so good he almost steals scenes from York. Applegate is such a pro he can sell a song in a bar or two and his “Friendship” duet with York is a lesson in one professional making another professional look even better.
Overall, “Anything Goes” is a pleasant show and the production is attractive. The sets are simple but appealing and the costumes in shades of white, tan and various pastels are elegant and pretty.
Even though it runs long (over 2 ½ hours) it’s enjoyable light-hearted summer entertainment. It’s seldom explosive fun but it is fun.
“Anything Goes” at Proctors Theatre in Schenctady. Performances 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. 2 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. (518) 346-6204, www.proctors.com.
Bob Goepfert is the arts editor for the Troy Record.
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