Madcap Musical ‘Anything Goes’ Cruises into Arena Stage

Anything Goes… perhaps especially these days!  Arena Stage’s production of Anything Goes, with choreography by Parker Esse, is lighthearted and fun entertainment for adults of all ages.  And with a cast of characters from all walks of life finding purpose, acceptance, notoriety, and even love, it’s a surprisingly timeless tale. 

The SS American has set sail from NY to London, and on board are heiress Hope Harcourt; her fiancée, millionaire Lord Evelyn Oakleigh; entertainer Reno Sweeney; some notorious con-men; and a whole lot of “nobodies.” One nobody, Billy Crocker, has stowed away with the express purpose of stopping Hope’s marriage… as he believes she’s his one true love.  Some unlikely alliances form in the effort to make it happen, and along the way, some other unlikely loves may fall into place.

Audiences will find themselves tapping along to tunes like “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “It’s De-Lovely,” and, of course, “Anything Goes,” as they snicker at the hilarious hijinks and laugh along at performers’ expertly timed comedic antics.   The performances of Jimmy Ray Bennett (as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh) and Stephen DeRosa (Moonface Martin) are particularly exceptional, causing laugh out loud delights.

Unfortunately, the stage configuration requires the band to be hidden underneath the stage, but the musical scores are rousing and expertly played.  The set design puts audiences right on the cruise ship with the characters, taking advantage of the Fichandler Stage’s theatre in the round orientation.  So there’s not a bad seat in the house, and guests feel as though they, too, managed to stow away — or perhaps con their way into a berth — like Billy Crocker (Corbin Bleu).

Witty, and a little bit zany, this jewel of classic Cole Porter is sure to bring a diverse audience to Arena Stage. It’s a pleasant and fun addition to the season’s more thought-provoking, political, and often sombre offerings.  But don’t think there’s no deeper message here!

As the lyrics from the title song suggest it’s not all fun and frivolity: “The world has gone mad today and good’s bad today/And black’s white today and day’s night today…. Anything goes!”

Anything Goes is playing at Arena Stage (1101 6th Street SW) through December 23, 2018. Running time: approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes with one 15 minute intermission. For information or tickets, call the box office at 202-554-9066, or click here.

*Photos credit Maria Baranova

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