Cole Porter’s Anything Goes is infectious, once it gets stuck in your head it sticks around for days, weeks even. At the grocery in front of the frozen veggies you find yourself humming that infectious tune, likewise at the Starbucks getting your big mocha latte and at the metro stop. hell… even at your desk at work! The songs are all quite unforgettable but the production by Olney Theatre Center, aside from a few key highlights, is not a show that will remain in the sweet spot of your memory very long.
A luxury cruise ship, sailing the ocean blue from New York to England, has been loaded with a madcap group of passengers for your amusement. The wild group includes but is not limited to a dangerous but lovable gangster Moon Face Martin (Ray Ficca), a wealthy and beautiful debutante Hope Harcourt (Laura Schutter), a nightclub singer Reno Sweeny (Karlah Hamilton) and a Wall Street broker Billy Crocker (Kevin Bernard).
As it turns out Hope is Billy’s love long since forgotten. Unfortunately, she is now engaged to a stuffy, aloof Englishman, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Karl Kippola). After a series of slap stick adventures onboard, Billy manages to win back Hope’s attentions. Meanwhile, Billy’s buddy, Reno, manages to woo and win Lord Evelyn. All this happens while Moon Face Martin and partner Bonnie (Erin Driscoll) attempt to escape the coppers.
There are two key performances that please in Olney’s production, Karlah Hamilton as Reno does not have the golden belting chords of previous Renos but does do the part justice and it is a pleasure to experience her sultry, alluring performance. Ray Ficca is able to pull off the strongest performance of the show as Moon Face Martin. His dance numbers are perfectly spectacular and his comic timing is dead on. The rest of the cast seemed flat, delivering their lines and hitting the notes but never getting to a level where they seemed comfortable in their roles.
The set by James Wolk and costumes by Howard Vincent Kurtz were bright, vivid and very pleasing, unlike the sound design that seemed dull and muffled at times due to body mic problems and what seemed to be other technical issues. Peppy choreography was pleasing especially when Mr. Ficca was onstage — the tap numbers were a joy.
Although this production is not stellar it is entertaining and I am sure the sound problems are solved as I write this. If 30’s musical mayhem is your cup-o-tea then Anything Goes is most likely something that will GO for you.