I love revivals, especially when they’re done well. And the Metropolis Performing Arts Center’s version of the high seas romp, “Anything Goes” as directed by Robin M. Hughes, is particularly de-lovely.
OK, sorry about that; it’s one of the many Cole Porter songs featured in this toe-tapping extravaganza. Set in 1934, when hard times called for a few hours of escape entertainment, “Anything Goes” relays the adventurous tale of nightclub darling Reno Sweeney, bound for London aboard the SS American.
But it ain’t smooth sailing and naturally there are complications, thanks to the antics of a lovesick stowaway named Billy Crocker, Public Enemy No. 13 a.k.a. Moonface Martin and a mismatched couple, Hope Harcourt and Lord Evelyn.
Maybe to be a bit clearer, it’s the classic tale of boy meets girl with music, dance, age old quips, and boffo production numbers. And thanks to the gorgeously stunning Art Deco costumes of Rachel S. Parent and Christopher Rhoton’s cleanly efficient scenic design, this production is a nostalgic wink to the Golden Age of Musical heaven.
The live orchestra, richly conducted by Kenneth McMullen, keeps a very attractive ensemble of sailors, passengers and chorus girls snappy, peppy, and lively. Reno sings, “why keep the brakes on?” and with Christie Kerr’s choreography, especially that Act One closing number, there’s proof that this ensemble can all sing and dance with great ability and flexibility-they are the top! But let’s be very clear here.
“Anything Goes” is Kaity Paschetto’s show. The minute she brassily saunders across stage as Reno, all eyes are riveted. She IS the personification of the beloved statuesque dame. Paschetto has gams that go on forever, and she can sing with sweet ease one moment and then knock you out belting like Merman the next.
Paschcetto is a dynamo. But let’s also be clear that Mark Pontarelli’s second rate gangster, Moonface Martin, almost interrupts her reign. Pontarelli is one of the most expressive, fluid, goofy, comedic actors I’ve seen in a long time. And the other leads?
Justice Good as lovesick Billy Crocker is quick witted, charming and debonair while Connor Murphy as his aristocratic competition, Lord Evelyn, is as refinely earnest and nerdily charismatic as any royal from across the pond.
But appreciation must also be given to Brandy Miller who plays Hope Harcourt with morals and classic ingenue sweetness, Maddie Dorsey as Erma Latour, the street smart sexy gangster moll (also a belter), Nancy Greco as overbearing gold digging mother Evangeline, and Jim Heatherly as Yale man and martini boosting tycoon Elisha Whitney.
They’re all exquisite. According to the New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley, showbiz legend says that the title “Anything Goes” came from a chaotic out of town rehearsal “when the leading man William Gaston was asked if he would object to making an easy entrance and replied, ‘in this kind of a spot, anything goes’. “ And believe me, at the Metropolis, in this production, it goes delightfully!
• After 35 years in education and theater, Regina Belt-Daniels continues to do what she loves best: teach, travel, direct, and write theater reviews.