Through Sat 8/12
Is there anything better than the music and lyrics of Cole Porter, done well by a professional theater company that cares entirely about the product they put on the stage? I don’t think so.
The second production of this 39th season at Ohio Light Opera in Wooster is Anything Goes by the estimable Mr. Porter. It’s an all-around terrific production, although truth be told, the dancing elevates the entirety to the stratosphere. There’s a bit of screwball comedy, along with the witty and scintillating songs, such as “All Through the Night,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “You’re the Top.” At the top of the list, however, is the title song that brings down the curtain on the first act.
It is absolutely nirvana for those of us who love tap dancing, as the last 20 or so minutes of the first act is almost nonstop tap, tap, tap to the rousing title song. There is the song itself sung by Alexa Devlin as Reno Sweeney, with all the ship’s sailors around her. Then comes a 10-second stop to catch the breath, while Ms. Devlin goes to the upper deck for a reprise, this time with the passengers helping the sailors. Once that well-deserved ovation dies down just a tad, there is yet another reprise, cleverly titled as the “Finale,” with the whole company on stage, hoofing away. It’s an absolutely awe-inspiring performance, believe me.
Steven Daigle did a fabulous job with his direction of this ocean liner. Steven Byess conducted the OLO orchestra in fine style as always, while choreographer Spencer Reese outdid himself. He also plays the part of Billy Crocker, who is sort of the lynchpin of the tale. No Billy? No show.
The zany plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, but in a screwball comedy, plot isn’t always essential. There’s a bunch of folks madly dashing here and there, providing laughs aplenty, as they seek to untangle themselves from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Daniel Neer as Moonface Martin, public enemy number thirteen, leads the way through the various byways of the ship, closely followed by Billy Crocker and Peter Morgan as Elisha Whitney, the Wall Street mogul.
There’s a quartet of lovelies who accompany Reno on stage, and a quartet of dashing sailors from the Ritz in London, plus intrusive media, the crew from the ship and the occasional titled Englishmen. It’s all great fun with luscious songs — and lest we forget — that spectacular dancing.
Order tickets for this show or the whole season at 330-263-2345 or ohiolightopera.org.
[Written by Kelly Ferjutz]