Anything Goes, is a classic 1930’s Broadway musical comedy; the audience came to the theater to be entertained and to escape, at least for one evening. It was The Depression, after all. Theatre-goers expected campy jokes, convoluted romance, singable songs and happy endings. Segue to 2015: Julie Colangelo-Dore, who is directing this month’s Sleepy Hollow High School Production of Anything Goes, chose the show’s 1962 off-Broadway revival of the show because “it has more funny stuff that gives the cast more opportunities to have fun, to experiment, and to broaden its talents.”
Tap dancing is a case in point. “The cast readily agreed to learn how to tap, actually asked for lessons. The revival also has lots of speaking parts which is always a good thing in a high school show,” Colangelo-Dore added.
And, there is something else evident with this production of Anything Goes. Everyone involved is in love with the show. For some, it its their fifth SHHS production, having started the process of auditions in their freshman year, they have stayed together for each show. “We look forward to each day of rehearsals,” commented cast member Peter Moriaty. “We all get along well and enjoy the esprit de corps. Many, at least for now, plan to continue with theater as a possible livelihood.”
The 1962 revival of Cole Porter’s show, as well as the 1934 original, is set aboard the ocean liner S.S. American. Included are two song and dance numbers that were not in the original production, yet today are considered Broadway standards and are often performed on the cabaret circuit, as they will be in the Sleepy Hollow High School production. “Friendship” (sung by Francis Pace-Nunez as Moon Martin, Henry Titcomb as Billy Crocker and Zoë Kaplan as Reno Sweeney) was originally written for DuBarry Was a Lady and “It’s De-Lovely” (sung by Henry Titcomb and Sara Friedman as Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt) was originally written for Red, Hot and Blue. (It must be comforting for a producer of a Cole Porter show to know that there is such a wealth of top-notch Porter material to draw upon as the situation warrants.) This production also features “You’re the Top”, “I Get a Kick Out Of You,” “Anything Goes,” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” sung by leads Henry Titcomb and Zoë Kaplan.
For the most part, the action takes place on the aforementioned S.S. American as it sails to England. Reno Sweeny is an evangelist turned nightclub singer and, perhaps, more than just a friend to Billy Crocker who is a young Wall Street broker who is in love with Hope Harcourt, an American debutante who is the unhappy fiancee of Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, (Peter Moriaty). Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt (Clare Johnson) is Hope’s overbearing mother who becomes involved with Elisha J. Whitney (Alexander Basescu), a Wall Street banker and Billy’s boss. And, folded into the mix is Moonface Martin, a second-rate gangster (Public Enemy Number 13), as played by Francis Pace-Nunez and his conspiratorial girlfriend Bonnie Letour, as played by Mary DelVecchio, and two card-playing Chinese con men Ching and Ling (Madi Bernstein and Mina Fassa), energetic tap-dancing sailors, and of course, the inevitable assortment of assumed identities and disguises. You get the idea: it’s all crazy fun and a high-flying zany escape from hard times.
Including its 1934 opening night, Anything Goes has had four versions: the original, the 1962 off-Broadway revival version, the 1987 Broadway revival version, and the 2011 Broadway revival version. Some creative changes were made with each revival, but the major characters appeared in different scenes, singing different songs, or dancing with different partners. In the end they were all left with similar romantic complications.
Needless to say, everything turns out the way it should in a perfect world of happy endings. This is a family show that “is delightful, that is delicious, that is delectable, that is de-lovely.” That a 1934 production can still fill a theater with eager anticipation in 2015 is certainly proof of the power of Cole Porter. The show’s most recent Broadway production in 2011 earned it both a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for best revival.
The production at Sleepy Hollow High School is scheduled for April 16th at 7:30 p.m., (senior production) April 17th at 7:30 p.m., and April 18th, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.