OPENING NIGHT OF THE THEATRE COMPANY’S “ANYTHING GOES”- 5 REASONS TO SEE IT THIS WEEKEND
The Theatre Company of Bryan/College Station begins their 31st season with a Cole Porter classic, Anything Goes. This musical takes us back to the 1930’s, where we board a ship with various character plots and loose ends and witness the antics of criminals, lovers, sailors, and nightclub singers, accompanied by swingin’ and shufflin’ music sure to dazzle you and make you dance in your seat. Here are 5 reasons why this production is a must-see this weekend
1. The Cast
The actors and actresses of Anything Goes are so aptly assigned to their characters that you’d think they have been running this show on Broadway for months. Hannah Shihdanian takes to the stage first as the lead female role Reno Sweeney, a strong personality and a mature voice that immediately gives us a glowing leader to follow for the duration of the story. Paul Early’s portrayal of Billy Crocker gives us a rich character arc from chinny and chesty Ivy League stockbroker man to comedically contorted clown chasing after his love interest, now and then swooning us with a classic croon. Hannah Ferguson’s Hope Harcourt bring us beautiful songs filled with conflicted feelings of love. The character acting of Tyler Bruffet as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh and Daniel Hill as Moonface Martin are also of particular note, as their abilities and interpretations fit their respective roles like magic. The whole ensemble is comprised of both young and experienced actors who all present an impeccable mastery and professionalism of the craft, and hold the production together like glue.
2. The Music
Swing music, though so present in the American experience, is not the easiest style of music to play and perform, by far. Each singer, musician, and dancer needs to have a strong sense of rhythm, and as an ensemble, they need to land on the downbeat together. The ensembles in this production, musically directed by Chris Hoffman, absolutely nail every downbeat with unity, accuracy, and finesse. Not only is the style of music in the show unique and technically demanding, but it also acts as one of the strongest parts of the time portal that the show embarks on as a whole. The songs give you more metaphors for the same refrain than you ever thought imaginable, and numerous 30’s pop culture references to top that, so the experience is sure to keep you satisfied and tapping your toes the whole way through.
3. The Content
The show was written in 1934 and updated in 1987, but there are elements within it that should be taken with a grain of salt; there are surely a handful of jokes and jabs that didn't age well. That said, there are moments where the story makes room for social commentary, and importantly, the actors are keenly aware that they are performing for an audience in 2018. There are moments where Reno and Hope stand their ground in rejecting males’ offensive conduct with such confidence and power that the audience cannot help but to back them up with cheers, snaps, and claps. In addition, interesting “nautical knots” of social constructs are tied together to create the most engaging web of subplots: priests are tied with criminals, criminals are treated as celebrity elites, and different nationalities and ethnicities are recognized and celebrated.
4. The Dancing
As if the cast couldn’t be more talented, they can tap dance too! This is not something you often see in a standard musical theatre work, but the era the story takes place in and music it involves necessitates it. The large ensemble numbers, choreographed by Carrie Murawski, beautifully combine tap, jazz and swing dance, as well as militant marches and large waving motions to provide a plethora of experiences and sensations within a single song.
5. The Set/Costumes/Directing/Production
Major props (no pun intended) must go out to the director of this production, Adrienne Dobson, producer Beth Akin, and the Set, Stage, Sound and Costume crews, as they truly sealed the deal on the experience of this musical being a fun, zany, and whimsical trip out to sea and back to a time not many of us know firsthand. Immediately upon walking into the theatre and seeing the huge SS American set piece, it feels as though you might lose your balance and will need to look for a guide rope before you fall overboard. During Hope’s graceful song on the nose of the observation deck in Act II, you can practically see the wind blowing through her moonlit hair. The costuming switches between sailor white and navy blue, aqua seafoam bluish-green, and totally 30’s regal red and classy black, creating the most beautiful, visually-stimulating array of colors. The lighting and main two-tier set piece give you the greatest sense of adventure despite sitting in the same seat for the duration of the performance.
All in all, you will not want to let this performance jump ship from your weekend plans. As director Adrienne Dobson said in her director’s note in the program, the theatre is a place where you can escape to a different time and place for two hours, and be swept away with laughs, cheers, and tears for a most engaging story. The Theatre Company’s production ofAnything Goesprovides all that and more—all aboard!